At the LagosMums 4th Annual Parenting Conference and Exhibition last year (2017), during her session, Mrs Tosin Babalola shared a few nuggets to help parents be more educated about their child’s developmental milestones and about special assessment.
How do you know when your child needs special assessment? There are certain developmental milestones that children attain at different stages of their lives. Taking a first step, stringing two words together, smiling for the first time, how a child plays, how a child learns etc. All this offer important clues about your child’s development as they mark various milestones. It is important to understand your child’s developmental milestones from age 0-24 months and from birth to age 5
Although children develop at different rates, if your child is not reaching some developmental milestones that is expected at that age, you don’t have to panic. It means your child needs special needs assessment and you need to discuss with a pediatrician.
Q: What are developmental milestones?
Ans: They can be seen as checklists or a base line. They help ascertain a child’s abilities based on what is achieved by most children at a certain age.
Q: What critical developmental domains are checked?
Ans: Physical Milestones: Involves the gross and fine motor skills
Communication Milestones: Involves both verbal and nonverbal communication; receptive and expressive.
Social and Emotional Milestones: Involves the child’s understanding of his/her emotion and that of others: learning to play with other people.
Cognitive Milestones: child’s ability to think, learn and problem solve.
Q: Why are they so important?
Ans: They help all the stake holders in a child’s life keep a watchful eye on the child’s growth. Ensuring that there are no undetected red flags.
Q: What are red flags?
Ans: These are indicators that alert care givers and professionals to the possibility of a delay in a child’s development.
Q: Do all children hit all milestones at the same time?
Ans: No! each child is unique! Some children hit their milestones early while others take their time. However, it is important not to take chances but rather, stay on the side of caution.
Q: What are common red flags:
Ans: An 18-month-old who is still not walking.
A 2-year-old toddler who is not stringing two letter words like ‘mummy go”.
What should you do when your child is not meeting their developmental milestone?
- Parents should check that their children are meeting their developmental milestones, a lot of resources are available online to help crosscheck .
- In the case where there are Red flags, parents should insist on professional evaluation and assessment to make sure they receive the right diagnosis.
- If a neurological disorder is diagnosed, parents should seek help and consult with certified therapists and specialists to chart the best course for intervention for a favorable outcome.
- Ask for help, join support groups ,reach out. You don’t have to go at it alone; you’re not alone. Remember to always advocate for your child.
- Learn the tools of interventions as several forms exist and all play a crucial role in the child’s development.
- Explore the biomedical angle,we are what we eat! A healthy diet and mineral supplements goes a long way in a child’s overall well being
- Keep good records of all correspondence and documents for referencing and follow-ups.
- Don’t forget to pray