Developmental Delays

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What are developmental delays? 

 Every parent wants the best for their child, but it helps to remember that every child develops at their own pace and time.  You also want to be aware of red flags if your child is not progressing at the same rate as other children his/her age.  There are many different types of developmental delays. This can be in speech, in gross/fine motor, social emotional skills, cognitive or vision.  If your child is experiencing a delay or you suspect a delay in one of these areas, the best way is to see your pediatrician for guidance and early treatment to help your child to progress in that area.

Warning Signs

Some warning signs for speech: maybe at 3-4 months doesn’t babble, at 1 year does not use single words, and by 2 years of age can only communicate by imitating speech or cannot speak at least 15 words.  This does not mean your child has a delay, they might have an inner ear infection and does not hear words clearly, or they may be hearing two different languages in the home, which may make it harder for your child to speak both languages.  If your child’s speech does not improve, you may want to consult your doctor.

Fine motor delays can be that your child has trouble grasping crayons and small objects.  Your child may have difficulty using their small muscles so some tasks can become tricky for them.

Gross motor delays can be that your child has difficulty using their large motor skills such as kicking, hopping, climbing, or walking.

Cognitive/social delay: Some signs to look for are, your child does not vocalize frequently, does not communicate gestures such as  waving bye, your child doesn’t recognize familiar objects or people by pointing or verbally saying the object or persons name , cannot follow simple directions.  These are some signs to look for and they range from thirteen months to thirty-six months.

A delay does not mean that your child will not progress, but getting the help your child needs early can help along the way.

Activities to Help your Child at Home

Some activities you might try at home for a speech delay is simple. Read books to your child, sing songs, do activities where you try to have your child say words.  If your child points to an object say, “do you want the cup?” Do not just hand it to them.  Let them blow bubbles, this helps to strengthen the muscles in the mouth and helps form words.

Fine/gross motor activities can be you make homemade play dough for your child to help build hand strength.  Have your child use crayons to draw with or small building blocks such as Lego blocks to help with poor grasp.   Gross motor can be fun; you can take your child to the grocery store and have them help you pick up a bag of apples, a gallon of milk, cans and so on. Some grocery stores have child size shopping carts for them to push.  The park is also another great area to build gross motor skills. Children can climb the monkey bars, stairs to the slide or walk along a balance beam.

Cognitive/social activities- The best way to help your child in this area is to focus on what your child can do.  Do not focus on the delay, rather focus on their strengths and interests.

When in doubt consult a physician, it may be something minor that you can help your child achieve, play, and learn together.

Tracy Martin-Turgeon has been in the field of early childhood education for 22 years.  She started with The Children's Workshop in September 1999 as an assistant director for and has since served as director, regional, and currently as a VP regional overseeing seven facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Early Childhood education from the University of RI. In her role, Tracy enjoys most supporting and helping the staff, families, and children she works with every day. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.