If you are having suspicions that your child may have a developmental delay of any kind, act now. The sooner you do something about it, the better off your child will be. Even if it turns out to be nothing, at least you will have the satisfaction that you tried.
I am not a professional in child development. I am just writing about MY experience. I live in California so things may run differently wherever you are located. I hope that by sharing my experience, it will help others.
I have ten things I wish I would’ve done before an evaluation for developmental delays. Not all of these will apply to everyone.
I plan to write about our IEP experience, his first year of preschool, the different categories that are involved when it comes to development, and our experiences with the evaluations.
Jay had four evaluations last summer for an autism program, preschool, a psychologist, and the initial evaluation for delays.
1. Know the Milestones
I had a whole blog dedicated to Julian and I am so glad I did monthly updates on his development. It has helped a lot to have it all documented. It didn’t occur to me until after I went through his evaluations to look at the blog. So before you meet with anyone, know how old your child was when he/she hit their milestones. Know when they sat up, spoke first word, started to crawl, started to walk, the basics.
You are your child’s advocate, pay close attention to the little things they do (or don’t do)
Does your child have trouble keeping balance when walking through obstacles?
Can your child turn the pages in a book?
How does your child hold a crayon/pencil/marker?
How does your child hold an eating utensil?
Can your child pinch something?
Does your child sit in the “W” position?
Does your child look closely at toys or other objects?
There are so many little things you might not even think of, observe ALL of the little things.
3.Catch the Habits/Traits
Jay’s eyes move side to side very quickly. I never realized this until it was brought up in his fourth evaluation! Ever since then I notice it all the time.
He also shakes his head when he gets excited. I thought it was his way of showing excitement but apparently it’s not “normal.” He also pinches his shirt and clenches his fists sometimes. Jay also has a tiny bit of OCD, doors and cabinets need to closed.
Try and see if the movements(if any) are voluntary or involuntary.
4. Know the Routine
I struggled with this a lot in the beginning.
Does your child have to follow certain routines?
And I don’t mean waking up, going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth and that good stuff.
I mean little routines.
I used to work a “flexible” schedule, which meant my hours were different almost every day. Having a routine wasn’t easy. Plus, I don’t like routines because what if we don’t follow it one day? He’s going to freak out.
I am in for a bad case of the anxieties when Julian doesn’t follow certain routines.
His Car Routine has to go this way or he gets anxiety.
I can’t turn the car on before he’s buckled in. He MUST buckle his chest buckle and I have to buckle the crotch one. When leaving the car, he HAS TO close his door and if he’s feeling up to it, locking the doors.
It’s a small routine but it has to be done this way because he’ll get anxiety.
Know the Routine.
5. Play Time!
Does your child pretend play?
Does your child play NEXT TO kids or WITH other kids?
Does your child play with the toys the “normal” way? (I hate this because how can you play with toys wrong?)
Does he/she line toys up?
Play time was/is still the hardest thing for me to grasp. I feel like I don’t know how to play with my child. Whenever we play, he will play for about a minute or so then walk out of the room. If he’s in the mood, he’ll “destroy” what ever I am playing with. It’s still a struggle and I have had to overcome my anxiety and realize that anything I do has the possibility of being ruined. Start puzzle? Mix up pieces. Build a sand castle? Walks all over it. Get cars ready to race? Uses his car to crash into the rest. It’s gets frustrating but at least I try.
Find the little things you think your child has trouble with when it comes to play.
6. True Words
Know what true words are.
This was a killer for me. My favorite word was sometimes.
Julian would blab a lot, some call it jargon. He would say words sometimes but not all the time. If your child says a word once and you haven’t heard it in weeks, it’s not a true words.
True words are words your child will say without being prompted he/she will say these on a somewhat daily basis.
Jay started out with less than 10 true words this time last year and now he has over 40.
At three years old and even at two years old there are a lot of independence expectations.
It wasn’t until Jay started school in October ’15 that I made him start semi dressing himself. Teach your child to pull up his/her pants. Putting socks on if they’re already halfway on. Pulling shirt on. Taking clothes off. Brushing his/her teeth. Feeding them self.
It’s easier and faster to do things yourself but the kiddies need to learn .
8. Spending Time with Other Kids
I am the baby of the family. I was born into a generation with no cousins my age. I was never around babies or toddlers growing up. I did not know what was normal and what wasn’t. If you’re a second time Mom at least you have your first child as reference. If you were like me and not around any kids, make some Mommy friends and observe their kids. Get an idea of how kids typically behave.
9. Be Mentally Prepared
While we all think our kids are perfect, having someone tell you that your child isn’t developing the way he/she should is a VERY hard pill to swallow. Mentally prepare yourself. At two years old, Jay was at the developmental level of a one year old in some areas. It’s not easy to hear something like that. Have a supportive group of people around you. Last summer is by far one of the most difficult times of my life because I felt so inadequate as a mother. I wasn’t being the best advocate for my child and I felt like sh#*! Mentally prepare yourself for this journey because once it starts, it goes on until your child turns 18.
10. Know that You’re Good Enough
It’s no ones fault. You are good enough. Your child is perfect. Don’t let negativity alter you. This is something I wish I would’ve realized last year. It tore me up obsessively thinking about what I did wrong. Just know that you are good enough and the fact that you are making the effort to do anything is more than enough.
I am here a year later, so proud of what my boy has accomplished.
If you have a suspicion of a delay and/or autism, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Don’t wait. Call now. Even if nothing turns out to be wrong, you will feel at ease knowing you did something about it.