Some kids are slower than others when it comes to reaching developmental milestones. This is not always something to be concerned about. Albert Einstein famously couldn’t speak full sentences until he was 5.
Of course, that isn’t to say that every slow developing child is destined to become a genius. Sometimes slow development can be due to your child having an undiagnosed condition – which could be physical or mental. Getting a diagnosis early could be important for providing them with support early on so that they don’t fall behind further.
There are a few things you can do to determine if you should be concerned or not. These are listed below.
Know exactly when your kids should be meeting certain milestones
You can look up the average age that kids reach certain developmental milestones online. There are also milestone tracking apps you can use. Some examples of major milestones include:
- Smiling: 6 to 8 weeks
- Crawling: 7 to 10 months
- Walking: 10 to 18 months
- Using a potty: 18 months to 3 years
- Talking in full sentences 2 to 3 years
- Reading/writing first words: 4 to 5 years
Don’t be too concerned if your child is a month or two behind. A delay of several months to over a year is when you need to take action.
Listen to the concerns of teachers and loved ones
If teachers or friends or family members express concerns about your child’s development, this could be a sign that your child is notably falling behind. Teachers (including pre-school teachers) can provide some of the most useful feedback as they are dealing with many kids of the same age and therefore more able to detect when a child is falling behind their peers.
Compare them to fellow kids of their age
If you know anyone with kids of a similar age, consider comparing how you and your child behave. Is there a noticeable difference in ability? Remember to compare the development of other kids to average milestones online – some kids may be early developers and your child may simply be developing at a normal pace.
Seek out the opinion of a professional
The best way to determine if there is cause for concern is to talk to a professional. The likes of an ABA assessment can officially determine whether your child is lagging behind – and whether a condition like autism is the cause. It is best to first talk to a doctor as they may be able to recommend a behavioral therapist or other specialist.
Look out for other signs of atypical behavior
Slow development is likely to be more of a concern if it is accompanied by atypical behaviors. For example, if a child lines up toys or avoids eye contact or does not smile when smiled at, it could be a more telltale sign of autism. If a child is constantly fidgeting when seated or constantly starting and abandoning tasks without finishing them (more so than other children), it could be an early sign of ADHD. Things like clumsiness or not hearing their name being called could meanwhile be a sign of a sight or hearing problem.