May is a celebration of Early Intervention Awareness Month! I would like to take the opportunity to “throw back” to some early blog posts which talk about roads to take when you have concerns about your child’s development. Parenting is not for the faint of heart! On a good day, the job leaves us with more questions than answers. During the birth to early childhood stage, many of those questions revolve around development. Is my child sleeping and eating like he should? Is he rolling over and moving like others babies? Is she making enough sounds? It is easy to get overwhelmed and become concerned. You know your child better than anyone else! This is the first part of a three part series that talks about steps to take if you have concerns about your child’s development. The first step is to know what you should expect to see from a child the same age as yours. Check out the video or explore the developmental checklists below.
CDC- Learn the signs. Act Early: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html
Easter Seals On-Line ASQ: http://es.easterseals.com/site/PageNavigator/ntlc10_mffc_homepageasq.html
Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia: http://www.infantva.org/Families.htm
Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/EIscreen.html
If you explored some of the developmental checklists and still have concerns, the next step is to contact your pediatrician or your local early intervention provider. Your pediatrician will be able to offer another perspective, conduct a screening, or consider alternatives with you. Talking with your pediatrician about your concerns may seem a little intimidating. There are a variety of emotions you may go through before, during, and after this appointment. It is OK to feel these emotions! It can be helpful to have a plan to help you get the information you need and express your concerns clearly.
Setting up the appointment:
Well-baby checks offer consistent opportunities to talk with your child’s pediatrician about developmental concerns. Developmental screening questions are often included as part of this visit. However, sometimes if you do not ask, you may not receive the information you need. You may also find you have concerns between these visits. I encourage you not to wait until your child’s next well-baby visit, if this happens. Call and schedule an appointment.
Before the appointment:
Write down information about your concerns. Try to think of specific examples of your concerns. (For example, “He does not seem like he hears me call his name, even when I am right behind him”). If you completed a developmental checklist, include that with your information. If you have the opportunity, record a video of your child that demonstrates your concern. Your doctor may not see your specific concerns within the time frame of his or her interactions with your child. Videos can be a helpful way to capture information.
Write down questions you have about development, concerns, etc. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to remember what questions have and have not been answered. Taking a written list, can help you ensure that all information is gathered. Bring an extra copy for the doctor as well.
Consider what you would like to see happening moving forward to address your concerns. Keep your options open but have an idea of what you would feel comfortable pursuing.
During the appointment:
Talk openly with your pediatrician about the concerns you have written down. If he or she does not seem to be responding to your concerns, be persistent. You are your child’s best advocate. You are the expert on your child! Do not accept “let’s just wait and see,” let your doctor know that your baby can’t wait!
Ask questions. If you do not understand something your pediatrician has expressed, ask for clarification. Pediatricians are not mind-readers, and may not know that you do not understand.
Develop a plan with your pediatrician for follow-up or access to resources.
After the appointment:
Follow-up with your plan of action.
Re-visit your written list of concerns and questions. Did you get all the answers you were looking for? Do you understand the information provided?
Remember, it may not be easy to think about, discuss, or consider that your child may have a developmental delay. Give yourself a break, too. Talk with a family member or friend about your feelings and don’t feel bad if you need a little extra support through the process!
May is Early Intervention Month! There is no better time to act than now! Remember, Babies Can’t Wait! Please visit the Parent Education –Infant Development website at http://www.racsb.state.va.us/earlyintervention.htm for more information about the program and services available.