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Developmental delays in kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

What is normal development?

We bring our children in the world with so many hopes and dreams for their futures. We daydream, make plans and revel in every step forward. Our child's first actual steps are a developmental milestone, and a symbols of their development as a whole. But what do we do if our child's development seems to slow, stop, or even go backwards?

Child at pediatrician

Developmental issues are scary thing. It's hard for parents to think about their children as anything but perfect; it's our job to think of them as perfect, and one we take on willingly! Developmental delays and regressions are serious issues, however, and require us to take off the rose colored glasses of perfection in our children - and get our kids the help they need.

Delay versus regression

Your child's development is watched closely by you and your child's pediatrician. There are certain milestones to be met at certain ages, and abilities to be acquired. Not meeting one of those milestones may indicate a developmental delay. There may be progress, but it is slower than hoped or expected. This is a delay and may or may not indicate a bigger issue.

If your child is having a hard time making multiple developmental milestones, but, again, there is progress, this is also a delay. This may be indicative of a significant developmental issue, and needs further evaluation and input.

Regressions - really developmental backsliding - is a very serious issue. When a child who has been normal in his or her developmental milestones starts to lose acquired milestones, this is a regression. For example, a child who has been talking stops talking, or a child who was walking stops walking.

Expert input

If you suspect a developmental delay or even a developmental regression, get expert help immediately. Your gut instinct is likely sending off some alarms and you need to listen to that gut. Whether the regression is sudden or noticed over a few days or weeks, contact your child's pediatrician immediately. And if the pediatrician doesn't satisfy your concerns, ask for a second opinion.

Early intervention

There are many possible causes for developmental delays and regressions. Some are treatable with terrific outcomes and come have a more convoluted path of treatment and/or assistance. But you can't get to identification of the issues and to treatment options without early intervention. Whether the delay or regression is motor-based or speech-based or cognitive, early identification of issues can help your child (and you!) maintain developmental milestones and make it to the next milestone.

The results will, of course, depend on your child's inidvidual issue - but wouldn't it be better to start sooner rather than later and start to get a handle on what you are dealing with? Delays and regressions are scary, serious issues for parent AND child. Act early, for all of you.?

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