15th Mar 2018

How do I know if my child has a developmental delay?

Like everything else in life, the sooner we can identify a problem, the faster we can get ahead of it. We know this is true of health, finances, and many other areas but did you know it’s also the case when it comes to education and, specifically, child development. Child development refers to the process in which children go through changes of skill development within predictable time periods. While children reach developmental milestones at different rates there are generally typical time spans for each of these milestones.

Developmental delay occurs when children have not reached these milestones by the expected time period. For example, if the normal range for learning to walk is between 9 and 15 months, and a 20-month-old child 

has not yet begun walking, this would be considered a developmental delay since age 20 months is outside of the normal “window” (or time frame) in which children learn to walk. Developmental delays can occur in all 

areas of learning or may just happen in one or two areas. However, growth in each area of development is connected to growth in the other areas. So if there is a difficulty in one area (e.g., speech and language), it can possibly influence development in other areas (e.g., social and emotional). Parents should watch for developmental warning signs. If you have a concern about your child’s development it is in your child’s best interest that you act as soon as possible. Early intervention is the key to minimizing the long-term effects and maximizing your child’s life-long success. In many cases, Pathways L.A. can help with developmental assessment testing and, if necessary, provide referrals to other professionals.

Contact your child’s pediatrician or doctor. Your child’s doctor can talk with you, examine your child, and refer you to agencies that help to screen or evaluate children for developmental delay. You should also feel comfortable discussing your concerns with your child’s preschool teacher. Some other sources of helpful information include Zero to Three, an organization offering services for babies and toddlers. Your local Regional Center or Early Start Program can also provide valuable info. For parents in our service area, you can also contact Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Infant and Preschool Support Services at (213) 241-4713. For more information on developmental delays and assessment testing, or if you have general questions regarding what services are available for your child, please contact a Pathways LA Resource and Referral Specialist.