Every child develops differently. Some may be quick to talk, but slow to walk. Some may enjoy interacting with their peers in a rough and tumble fashion while others may seek out more solitary activities. As parents, we naturally compare our child to other children and wonder "is there a problem and should I be concerned?" Information on typical development, how to deal with challenging behaviors, and how to seek the advice of the medical community is important when developmental concerns arise.
How do I know what is considered "typical development?"
General developmental milestones can be used to monitor your child's development. If your child differs from what is considered typical, it may be time to seek expert advice. Do not be afraid to seek advice when you suspect something is wrong. The earlier a concern can be addressed, the sooner your child will benefit. The goal of early intervention and early childhood education is to provide children with the necessary supports and services to maximize their developmental potential. Informative resources include:
- The University of Michigan Health System provides a comprehensive collection of developmental checklists. They also have additional information on developmental delays.
- Zero to Three has numerous resources on the development of children under three.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides developmental milestones in print and video format as well as an interactive chart to keep track of your child's development.
What is a "developmental screening?"
Developmental screenings are a formal way to have your child quickly assessed for the possibility of a developmental delay. If a delay is suspected, a full developmental assessment may be suggested. Developmental screenings can take place in a physician's office, through an early intervention provider, or through the local school district's Child Find efforts.
Child Find is a collaborative effort between local school districts, Child and Family Connections offices, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Department of Human Services. Its purpose is to locate and serve children needing early intervention services within the State of Illinois. Find the Child and Family Connection office that serves your county.
Screenings available in the Heartland Community College area include:
- marcfirst - Services for Parent, Infant and Child Education (SPICE)
- Easter Seals Central Illinois
- Child & Family Connections of Central Illinois
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides:
- an overview of the purpose and need for developmental screenings
- a fact sheet on developmental screenings in both English and Spanish (PDF).
How do I deal with "challenging behaviors?"
We've all heard of the "terrible twos." But what about biting, a baby with unending colic, tantrums at age 4, and the proverbial "it's mine!" As a parent, how do we know when our child's behavior is problematic? And more importantly, where can we find out how to change the behavior?
There are several helpful resources with a variety of information on challenging behaviors. They include:
- Parenting 24/7 provides resources for behaviors in children 0-1 and in preschool children 2-5
- Zero to Three provides resources for children 0-3
- University of Illinois extension provides many parenting tips
- Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children provides information on challenging behaviors
How do I seek advice from the medical community?
When concerns arise about your child's development, your primary health care provider is the best place to start. Make an appointment to specifically discuss your concerns. Be prepared to describe those concerns and provide examples that illustrate your points. Feel free to request a referral to see a developmental specialist. Developmental pediatricians, pediatric neurologists and developmental psychologists are some of the many specialists that may be able to provide an in-depth evaluation of your child's development.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides tips on how to involve the medical community in assessing a child's development.