Every child develops at their own pace, but there are common milestones that can gauge their progress. These milestones offer insight into whether a child is developing more quickly, more slowly, or at a similar rate as their peers. When development is delayed, it can have an impact on the child’s function, relationships, communication and more. Developmental therapy for children addresses these issues in an effective yet fun way. It incorporates a lot of play and activities that build skills in a natural yet therapeutic manner. It may seem like the child is not working toward goals, but in reality they are most likely practicing multiple skills at once.
We offer a variety of evaluations and testing to look at a child’s global skills and development. Therapists assess their areas of strength and those that need improvement. The goals of child developmental testing and therapy are to teach children to be more engaged, to play with peers appropriately, to develop social-emotional capacities, to improve sensory responses, and to increase communication skills. These are all foundations they will continue to build upon as they get older.
What is Child Development?
Child development refers to the physical, intellectual, social and emotional changes that children go through starting from birth. These are factors that shape who they are, how they act, and what they do as they get older. Children continue to build upon the basic skills that they learn in order to develop more complex capabilities. Parents, educators, and healthcare providers look for certain abilities to help determine proper development and whether the child may have any disabilities. With the right therapies and supports in place, children can often overcome some developmental delays. There are many factors that contribute to a child’s development.
What is a Developmental Milestone?
Developmental milestones are used to track a child’s progress and gauge what they should know and be able to do at certain ages. If a child is late hitting a milestone, it can be a sign that they may need developmental therapy or further evaluation and monitoring. Parents often express developmental milestones as their children’s “firsts” – the first time they smile, their first word, their first step, when they know the alphabet or can count to 10, and so on. Knowing what milestones to look for around what age can help parents, doctors, and other professionals know whether the child is on track or may have developmental delays.
Common Milestones/Skills for Children at Different Ages
There are sets of commonly agreed upon milestones or skills for children at different ages. They get more complex as the child gets older. For instance, before they are expected to be able to walk, they learn how to crawl. Infant and toddler milestones are focused on the basics: making noises and starting to say words, recognizing and interacting with familiar people, fussing or pointing to communicate needs, picking up and exploring objects, and starting to mimic what they see and hear. For children ages 2 to 5, the focus is more on learning and using words to communicate, showing diverse emotions, interacting with others through play, manipulating toys and objects, being more mobile, and developing basic independence.
- By 4 months old, infants should be smiling, babbling, responding to affection, grasping things and starting to roll over.
- By 9 months old, babies are starting to make different sounds, put things in their mouth, sit up without support and play peek-a-boo.
- One-year-olds are better at pointing, handing objects and starting to communicate needs. They follow simple directions and are learning how to walk.
- Two-year-olds are saying two- to four- word phrases, showing more defiance, following two-step directions, and are walking and running.
- By 4 years old, children are starting to play with other kids, sing songs, beginning to count and identify colors, draw and catch a ball.
- Five-year-olds know the difference between real and make believe most of the time, speaks more clearly in full sentences, can copy shapes, can count to 10 and know their name and address.
What if my Child Does Not Meet a Developmental Milestone?
If your child does not meet a developmental milestone, there is no need to panic. They may be close behind their peers but just need a little more time and guidance. Jot down your concerns and observations so that you can talk to your child’s pediatrician or the professionals at PediaPlex. Developmental testing, evaluations and assessments can help to determine your child’s progress, their areas of strength and their areas of need. Developmental therapy may be recommended to support your child in learning the skills necessary to meet developmental milestones.
Remember that every child develops at their own pace, and certain physical or cognitive disabilities can affect your child’s development. They may be functioning at a level that is appropriate for their circumstances. However, developmental therapy may be able to help them continue advancing and building their skills. It is essential to consult with a professional and work together to support your child if you have concerns.
How Can I Help My Child Make Sure They Meet Developmental Milestones?
Parents can play an integral role in supporting their child’s development. Spend plenty of time engaging with your child and modeling appropriate behaviors and actions. Talk to them about what you are doing, what you are reading, what you hear and what you see. When they make noises or actions in response, acknowledge and interact with them.
It is also helpful to provide your child with a variety of age-appropriate toys to support them in building their skills and learning new ones. Encourage them to use their words and practice doing things more independently. You do not want to do everything for them all the time when there are things they can certainly do themselves. If you are concerned that they are not progressing toward or meeting certain milestones, have them evaluated and see if there are things you can do at home to help. They may also need developmental therapy to help them achieve these goals.
Get Your Child Developmental Therapy and a Full Comprehensive Assessment
If you are concerned about your child’s progress, get them a full comprehensive assessment and developmental therapy to support their needs. Thorough child developmental testing can give you a broader understanding of their development and areas that they are strong in and those where they are struggling. It may also identify contributing factors as to why your child’s development is delayed. Through developmental testing and therapy at PediaPlex, your child can enhance their skills and begin to overcome any deficits. They will work on activities that support them in reaching the next level and accomplishing established goals and objectives. Contact PediaPlex today to coordinate an evaluation and developmental therapy!