When your friend proudly says that their 12-month-old speaks in three-word sentences and your 12-month-old just started to say mama or dada, you can’t help but wonder if there’s something wrong with your child’s development.
Many parents who are concerned about their child’s development come to THINK Neurology for Kids so we can perform a thorough assessment, identify any problems, and then develop a plan to remediate the delay.
Since it’s important to recognize problems early, we wrote this blog to give you the basics about what it means to have a developmental delay.
Developmental delay vs. developmental disability
Developmental delay and developmental disability are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between the two:
Developmental disabilities are neurological disorders that usually appear during childhood and persist for the rest of your child’s life. With intensive intervention, children can often overcome some aspects of their disability but the core challenges remain throughout adulthood.
A few examples of developmental disabilities include autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, Fragile X syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Children with developmental disabilities often have one or more developmental delays.
When your child has a developmental delay, it means they didn’t reach one or more of their developmental milestones within the expected age range. With early intervention, most children with a developmental delay overcome their challenges and perform at the same level as their peers.
About developmental milestones
Developmental milestones define the essential skills that develop in children, beginning at the age of 2 months and continuing through the age of 5 years. The four key skill categories are:
- Cognitive (thinking) skills
- Speech and language skills
- Motor (movement) skills
- Social and emotional skills
The ability to perform self-care skills such as tooth brushing is also part of their developmental milestones. Children have a global developmental delay when they’re delayed in several skill categories.
At every stage, there are specific behaviors and criteria that define the expected developmental progress. To give you an idea of developmental milestones, here are a few that typically appear by the age of 2 months:
Your baby pays attention to faces, recognizes people at a distance, and follows things with their eyes.
Speech and language
Infants at 2 months typically turn their head toward sounds and make gurgling noises.
A 2-month-old should hold their head up and begin to push up when lying on their stomach.
Social and emotional
You’ll see your baby smile around 2 months. They should also be able to self-soothe by sucking on their thumb.
Milestones aren’t carved in stone
The most important thing to remember about milestones is that each child develops at their own pace. Though milestones are always listed as though they occur at a specific age — and parents tend to compare based on age — developmental skills are expected to appear within a wide range of time.
For example, many children learn to walk between the ages of 10-14 months. However, any time between the ages of 9-18 months is within a normal range.
Screening for developmental delays
Early intervention makes a big difference for children with developmental delays, so it’s important to identify any problems as soon as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive comprehensive developmental delay screening at 9 months, 18 months, and 30 months, or when a parent or teacher suspects a problem.
Any time you suspect a problem with your child’s developmental progress or you have any questions, call THINK Neurology for Kids or schedule a consultation online at our offices in The Woodlands, Katy, or Cypress, Texas.