Child Development Basics
Child Development Basics
Scott Cohen (Pediatrician, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) gives expert video advice on: What can affect my child's ability to reach his milestones?; What do I do if my child has a developmental delay? and more...
What are "developmental milestones"?
So, developmental milestones are ways for pediatricians to track how a child is growing and developing and developmental milestones are broken up into different categories. There are motor milestones which are how we move and there's language milestones in how we are speaking and then there are behavioral milestones. And doctors look at every visit on what a child is doing and correlate that with other children in their age group to see if it's appropriate. Now the most important thing to remember with milestones is these are not fixed in stone. If you go on the internet, if you read a book, it says at one year of age your child walks. And development and milestones do not work like this. Yes, many one year olds walk, but if your child doesn't walk at one, it's absolutely normal as well. I think of milestones as a trend and we always want to look at the trend. If you're doing something today that you weren't doing a month ago, or six months ago and we're moving in the right direction, that's what's important. It's not what we're doing today as a fixed point in time. And that's really important for parents to understand because with all the literature and all the things we can read nowadays, I know parents get concerned about my child doesn't do this, but Sally does, and remember everybody develops at a different rate and there are many different ranges of normal.
What can affect my child's ability to reach his milestones?
Well the things you do with them, you know many children will develop milestones based on their interactions with you. So things you can do to help is play with them, and talk to them, and read stories, having children around other children, especially older children where they're going to mimic and see and try new things, being in daycare classes and school also so that they're having interactions with other children and people are helping them develop the skills as they get older.
What is a "developmental delay"?
A developmental delay is when we are not reaching our mile stone by an appropriate age. Again, these aren't fixed stones either. So, if we say, my child or most children walked this year and your child is not walking. That's not a developmental delay if they are doing other things that are getting us to that point. But, there is a range of development ,and if we are outside of that range, and they are still not doing any things, then we want to try to look for other ways we can get that child to succeed, and may be get some intervention, so that we can improve the delay.
What are signs that my child has a developmental delay?
Some signs of a developmental delay, and it's really age appropriate, are really that the general trend of development is not heading in the right direction. Your child has reached a wall and they're not moving further. For example, the child who is speaking just a couple words, but never starts putting two words together or longer sentences together may have a developmental delay. The child who is pulling up to stand, but never develops into walking or running again may have a developmental delay. These are the type of things we'll look at, so we can see if there are other interventions we can make to help those developmental delays go along.
What do I do if my child has a developmental delay?
If there's a true developmental delay, we want to refer them to a specialist. So if it's a speech delay, they may get a speech therapist involved. If there's a motor delay, there may be an occupational therapist or a physical therapist involved If it's a delay in a milestone where they're just a little slower, but it's not a true developmental delay that we're concerned about because everything is moving in the right direction, a lot of dealing with the delay may just be education and waiting and watching.