Parent Journey on Developmental Milestones
The journey of a parent when they need to seek out services for their child who is falling behind on development or growth milestones involves three stages; awareness stage, consideration stage, and decision stage. Every stage contains actionable steps the parents should undertake as well as resources required and used.
- Awareness is the most critical part of a parent's journey when seeking services to help their child who is falling behind on development milestones. This stage involves monitoring the child's development and comparing it with the set development milestones to determine where and how the child is falling behind.
- This stage enables the parent to identify potential developmental delays early enough and seek treatment immediately hence improving the child's abilities and skills.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 6 children experiences developmental disability which increases the risk of poor performance at school, success in life, and well-being. Moreover, children with development issues risk suffering health problems, more absences from school, and same grade repetition. A parent should be aware of these consequences and early precautions to undertake.
- In the United States, every state has free or low-cost physical therapy, speech therapy, and other child development services. A parent should identify any development concerns early enough to leverage these state services. Notably, early treatment makes a significant difference in a child's learning of new skills.
- To accurately track the child's development milestones, the parent can use the tools provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which are free and easy-to-use. The milestone checklists are developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, hence their reliability in monitoring the child's development.
- After identifying any development concerns relating to the child's cognitive, social/emotional, movement/physical, and language/communication development, the parent should proceed to the next stage of consideration.
- The consideration stage involves sharing concerns about the child's development with a specialist, pediatrician or trained teacher to ascertain the child's situation and get recommendations on the next best steps. This may involve a screening process, usually recommended by the American Academic Pediatrics at the ages of 9,18, 24, and 30 months.
- Developmental screening closely examines the child's development and identifies any missed milestones which could signify a problem. Usually, the screening processes use various tools such as a questionnaire filled by the parent and/or tests on the child.
- This stage may involve several visits to screening and may sometimes include a referral to a development specialist. The specialist helps determine if the delay is just a temporary one or not.
- After several tests, the doctor or specialist will be able to determine the accurate development concerns of the child. This will then lead the parent to stage three.
- The decision stage involves the parent making the decisions on how to deal with their child's development concerns following the doctor's or specialist's diagnosis. If concerns are identified, the parent should immediately proceed to the treatment stage.
- The parent can choose to visit a primary care doctor, behavioral and development pediatrician, or a pediatric neurologist depending on the severity of the condition and budget.
- Every state in the United States runs an early intervention program which the parent can immediately enroll the child into. This program has an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) that sets up an individualized program per family depending on the needs of the child.
- When selecting a pan, it is critical for the parent to choose one that integrates a lot of one-on-one interactions with the child.
- Special education is another option a parent may consider if the child is going to school. The child is enrolled in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) specifically designed for them and their needs.
- It is also recommended for the parent to educate themselves through a professional's recommended books as well as their rights pertaining to the special education program.
- In the event that the parent is still worried even after undergoing the above stages, they should visit a specialist or state's early intervention program and reassess the child's development condition.