Support tips if you suspect your child may have a developmental delay or disability

What to do if you feel that your child might have a disability or developmental delay.

If you google “child milestones” you will get around 700,000 pages of information. How do you know what sources to trust? And if every child develops at different rate, how do you know when to be concerned?

Here are some tips from our Occupational Therapists, that may support you if you suspect your child may have a disability or developmental delay

  1. Your child is unique. Every child reaches milestones (especially the big milestones like walking and talking), at their own pace and there is a range of time that is typical to reach these milestones. For example, a child may first walk independently from 9 months through to 18 months and still be within the typical range.
  2. You know your child best. The everyday interaction that you have with your child makes you the best person to know if something is not quite right with your child.
  3. Learning comes from a baby’s desire to be socially engaged. If you are concerned about your child’s development, it’s important to pay attention to their overall interest in the world rather than the exact day they reach major milestones. In young babies, even in the first few months of life, it’s important to pay attention to the way they respond to faces, reach for objects, and respond to external stimulus like light.
  4. If you think there might be a problem, ask for help. Your baby’s brain will develop rapidly in the first few years and it’s important that any concerns are addressed early. Your local child and maternal health nurse or your doctor can both help you out.
  5. Get a referral. If you still have concerns after talking with your doctor or child and maternal health nurse, ask for a referral to a paediatrician. Remember, you know your child best and don’t worry about appearing too demanding or high maintenance.
  6. Make sure you are accessing reputable online sources. The raising children network has useful pages on baby development and milestones, Child development in the first five years and a baby development tracker. The raising children network is funded by the Australian Government and bases its information on scientific evidence.

SDN Children’s Services uses a child-first, strengths-based approach to providing support to children with disabilities or developmental delays. Therapy happens in the places where children live, play and study and we also work with your family to ensure therapy can take place every day. If you need early intervention services for your child because of a developmental delay, SDN can help. Find out more.


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