It’s not uncommon for parents and family members to become concerned when their baby or growing toddler doesn’t seem to be developing according to the normal schedule of “baby” milestones. Parents often voice concerns that a child hasn’t rolled over yet or that an older child was already crawling by this age, or that a child is not saying more than a few words. While it’s true that children develop differently, at their own pace, and that the range of what’s “normal” development is quite broad, it’s hard not to worry and wonder.
If you think that your child is not developing at the same pace or in the same way as most children his or her age, it is often a good idea to talk to your child’s pediatrician and explain your concerns. Tell the doctor what you have or have not observed with your child. Your child may have a disability or a developmental delay, or he or she may be at risk of having a disability or delay.
Early Development Resources for Parents and Caregivers
Parents and caregivers can also contact the Early Childhood Direction Center. The staff can provide resources and the needed support to learn more about the milestones of early development or the process to refer a child for an evaluation through the Early Intervention (EI) Program. Parents can also learn the steps to access the program, understand the evaluation process and eligibility for the services and the opportunities the early intervention services can provide. Evaluations through EI are provided free at no cost to the family. They assess all areas of development and will determine if the child has a developmental delay or disability. Parent information is also accessed and used to determine the priorities and concerns related to caring for and enhancing the child’s development. All of the evaluations are reviewed and the results may indicate a child is eligible for early intervention services.
Decades of rigorous research show that children’s earliest experiences play a critical role in brain development. We have learned that the brain is strengthened by positive early experiences and know that Early Intervention program services improve and enhance the development of a child and keep a child on a path to making the most of abilities and skills developed during the early years. Early Intervention can also help parents learn the best way to care for a child, support and promote a child’s development and include a child in family and community activities.
The decision to have a child evaluated because of a suspected delay is a difficult one. Parents can feel secure knowing the staff of the Early Childhood Direction Center is available to help!