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Watching and Wondering: Concerned About Developmental Delays? Here’s Where to Go for Help
As a parent, you have the joy of watching all the “firsts” as they unfold. First smile, first words, first steps. Sometimes, parents also have the worry of wondering whether children are developing as they should be.
Young children grow at their own pace and in their own way. Sometimes it can be hard to know if something is wrong. If you do have concerns, here are some suggestions for following up.
Learn more about typical development from birth to 3 years old. You can find developmental milestones charts here.
Share your concerns with your co-parent in a calm and nonjudgmental way. Recognize that you or your partner may need time to think through this information. One or both of you may not feel ready to act right away.
Know that you’re not alone. Here’s where to go for help.
Talk to your child’s health care provider.
Health care providers can do a developmental screening of your child to see how she is doing as compared to other children her age. They can rule out medical causes for delays in development. Your child’s health care provider can also refer you to community agencies such as early intervention that can help both your child and your family.
Reach out to your community early intervention agency.
Communities are legally required to evaluate children’s development and provide support or therapy to eligible children to address developmental delays. This is called “early intervention.” It is a service provided by law—Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Parents or guardians of children from birth through 2 years old can call their local early intervention program and request a free developmental evaluation.
- Contact your county’s information line. Ask for the telephone number of the Part C-Early Intervention program serving your county.
- You can also find early intervention contact information for your every state here.
Remember that you are your child’s first—and best—teacher. Learning what you can do to support his development is an important part of early intervention. Your participation gives your child every opportunity to learn and grow in the early years and beyond.
About Baby Steps
This article was featured in Baby Steps, a ZERO TO THREE newsletter for parents and caregivers. Each issue offers science-based information on a topic of interest to parents and caregivers of young children—from sleep to challenging behaviors, and everything in between.
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