What is normal development? Well, the fact of the matter is, we don’t even use the term normal when assessing a child’s abilities, human development has typical ranges, but every child is unique from the next. Developmental milestones are helpful for families to track a child’s developmental progression. When children are delayed in reaching a developmental milestone, it is helpful to make note of this delay and encourage progression toward acquiring the milestone skill. Many times families can expose the child to activities that aid the child in reaching the milestone quickly. However, there are other times when a little help is needed to encourage a child in the right direction. This is when you call in the professionals!
Pediatric occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists are subject matter experts in developmental progression. In fact, when you are at the pediatrician and complete the Ages and Stages Questionnaire about development, if your child is behind the milestones, the pediatrician will often refer you to a pediatric therapist. Pediatric occupational therapists work with children on development of fine motor skills – including grasp, using fasteners, and handwriting. They also work on self-regulation and teaching children and adolescents to manage sensory inputs effectively. Pediatric physical therapists help children acquire gross motor skills – starting with rolling and crawling all the way up to skipping/riding a bicycle. They also teach children balance, coordination, and how to efficiently motor plan tasks. Pediatric speech therapists work with children on the development of speech, language, and oral motor skills. These skills include articulation, comprehension of language, expressive vocabulary, and feeing/swallowing.
It is very beneficial to monitor your child’s development. The best advice is to “catch it early”. We recommend keeping a developmental milestone chart on your refrigerator and keep an eye on what your child can do, should be able to do currently, and what’s next! This will help you understand the areas your child excels and the areas they may need more practice. It will also help you come up with fun ways to develop the skills ahead. And if you need an extra hand, give us a call. It is much easier for us to close the gap when the delay exhibited is small, the larger it gets – the longer it takes to catch up.