Jun 27, 2017, 11:13:09 AM CDT Dec 31, 2020, 10:44:06 AM CST

Know when to talk to your pediatrician about your child's development

Recognizing the signs of developmental delay.

Little happy boy having classes with occupational therapist. Little happy boy having classes with occupational therapist.

As your child grows, he/she will begin to hit certain developmental milestones like crawling, talking and walking. Although each child grows differently, children tend to hit these developmental milestones roughly around the same time.

If your child is just a month or two behind, it’s worth noting, but may be normal. However, if your child is multiple months behind in development of one or more basic skills, you should talk to your child’s pediatrician about the possibility of a developmental delay that may require intervention.

Typical developmental milestones

Developmental milestones achieved by age 1:

  • Expressing emotions with sounds or cries.
  • Crawling or scooting around.
  • Sitting and standing up on their own.
  • Reacting to other people’s emotions by smiling, laughing or crying.
  • Able to say a few single words (e.g., “Hi,” “dog,” “mama”).

Developmental milestones achieved by age 2:

  • Drinking from a sippy cup and using a spoon.
  • Scribbling with crayons or markers.
  • Following simple directions.
  • Walking on their own.
  • Using two-word phrases (e.g., “Go bye-bye?” or “Good doggy”).

Developmental milestones achieved by age 3:

  • Running and jumping
  • Building tall towers with blocks
  • Using two- or three-word phrases
  • Asking questions to find out more information.

Evaluating developmental delays

Pediatricians or pediatric psychologists and neuropsychologists can diagnose a developmental delay. Pediatricians may refer to precise guidelines and checklists to make the diagnosis. Your pediatrician may also refer you to a developmental pediatrician (a doctor who specializes in child development), a pediatric neurologist, or a neuropsychologist for more comprehensive evaluation.

When it comes to developmental delays, early evaluation is important.

“You want to evaluate developmental delays sooner rather than later because the child’s brain is constantly growing and developing,” says Alice Ann Holland, Ph.D., ABPP, a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and the Research Director of the Neuropsychology Service at Children’s Health. “The sooner you can intervene, the more likely that treatment is going to be effective.”

Early intervention for developmental delays

Early intervention can help many children get back on track with development. Possible interventions may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Vision correction
  • Hearing assistance
  • Special education services

Many developmental delays can be overcome with appropriate intervention. For instance, speech therapy can help your child’s language development or articulation skills, and physical therapy can help a child who is struggling with balance and coordination.

Other developmental delays may be long-term, especially if caused by intellectual disabilities or genetic conditions such as Down syndrome or autism. Early intervention can still be extremely beneficial for children with these conditions, helping them reach their full potential.

Learn more

If your child has missed several milestones, talk to a pediatrician or a psychologist at Children’s Health by calling 214-456-7700.

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