Celebrating milestones is one of the most exciting parts of being a parent! First steps, first smiles, first words—moms and dads are always eager to share. All of this sharing also creates an opportunity for others to help monitor those milestones.
We Are All in This Together!
There is an old African proverb that says, "It takes a village to raise a child." In today's social world, the networks of relationships you form create your modern-day village—grandparents, neighbors, teachers, friends, and others who touch your life directly or indirectly. Everyone in the village can play a part in monitoring your child's development.
Parents: The Village Begins at Home
Parents form the foundation of the village. You take on the most important role in identifying any signs of a developmental delay. After all, who knows your child better than you?
Many children with developmental delays are not being identified as early as possible. So, it's important to learn about developmental milestones to see if your child is meeting them within expected time frames. Identifying the signs and acting early can help your child reach his or her fullest potential. Although early intervention is extremely important, intervention at any age can be helpful.
Parents & Social Networks
Many parents today are active on social media, so their "village" may extend far beyond their city limits. In addition to establishing and maintaining friendships, many new parents value social connections with others as a way to share information about improving their children's development and learning.
Sharing parenting experiences and stories about your children is a good thing; it may help others in your network going through the same thing to learn from your experiences. Try posting:
"I like to use a checklist for developmental milestones from CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's good for helping us understand [child's name] development and which milestones he's met, along with which ones he's still working on."
When it comes to concerns over your child's development, however, it is important to also seek advice from professional experts—like your pediatrician.
The Village Expert: Your Pediatrician
It may be true that it takes a village to raise a child, but that village had better include an expert or two.
Do not be afraid to talk to your child's pediatrician about your concerns. It is always better to follow your instinct. Acting early can make a difference.
Well-child visits allow pediatricians to have regular contact with your child and his or her development. Ask your pediatrician to do a developmental screening or ask about the results of your child's most recent one.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children receive screening for development at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern.
If you feel rushed during the appointment, ask the pediatrician if you should make another one to continue discussing your concerns.
If your pediatrician says to "wait and see," you may want to get a second opinion from another pediatrician. Waiting can cause a child with a developmental delay to miss out on services that could help if acted on early.
If the pediatrician has referred your child to a specialist, make sure you have the contact information to schedule an appointment.
If your child is diagnosed with a delay and is under the age of 3, he or she may qualify for your state's early intervention services. Your pediatrician can refer you or you can call your state's program directly. If your child is 3 or older, contact your local school system to see if he or she qualifies for preschool special education services.
With your village's support, you all will be able to help your child thrive and reach his or her full potential.
Additional Information & Resources: