Dealing With Delays

(This post originally appeared on The Journey of Parenthood blog on February 11, 2016 as part of a Babywise Friendly Blog Day!)



Of our four children, two of them have shown signs of delay. My experience was a little different for both of them, but we learned some things the first go around that helped us navigate through the process the second time. 

Identify As Early As Possible

The normal range for development can vary from child to child, but sometimes there are things that raise concern that need to be addressed. The sooner a delay is identified, and the sooner you can address it, the better the chance you can have at making progress and many times catching up.  

The first time we noticed delays, I didn’t speak up soon enough to our pediatrician. I think I was afraid of the process because it was unknown and ultimately because I didn’t want anything to be wrong with our baby! Thankfully, once we started services for him, he started THRIVING and I was so very thankful we were getting him the help he needed. 

There are a few different areas to watch for:

Speech – Language and Talking
Motor Skills – Gross and Fine Movement
Adaptive – Social, Emotional, and Self Care 
Cognitive – Comprehension and Thinking
(Other areas could be Vision and Hearing.)

I am a big believer in the “Mamas instinct”. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, I would follow your instinct and address it until you know for sure that everything is ok. 

Ask Questions

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell if something is normal development or not. Ask questions and do your research. 

If you have regular “Well Visits” with your child’s pediatrician, all of these areas are inspected and observed. If you have questions or don’t know, your doctor is the first and best person to ask about your child’s development. It’s important to remember that you are your child’s greatest advocate! Your child’s doctor can only know what he sees in front of him or what you tell him. So speak up with any questions or concerns so that you can either put your mind at ease, or you can begin to seek the help you need. 

If you seek help and advice from friends or family, keep in mind that children do develop at different rates so take advice with a grain of salt. Even well-meaning friends can be opinionated and since this can be a very sensitive area for parents, comments can sometimes feel offensive.

Seek Help

The good news if your child shows delays is that there are so many available resources that can help you. Your Pediatrician is the best place to start. In many states there are low-cost or income based services available to you with a referral from your physician. This is the route we have chosen with both of our boys both for speech delays and now this time with motor and adaptive delays. The first go around we were in Texas and this time we are in Alabama. Both services have been so very helpful. In both experiences there is an evaluation process and then if you qualify they come to your home and help you child with whichever area(s) they need it. I truly feel like they have completely changed the course of our childrens’ lives by helping them completely catch up to their developmental levels. 

The downside to those services, is it can often be difficult to schedule. If you have the insurance and/or means available, you can search your area for private services. Oftentimes your Pediatrician can also refer you to someone. 

Emotionally Coping

Developmental delays can be sensitive for parents because no parent wants there to be anything wrong with their child. It scares us and makes us question whether we have done something wrong or made a mistake. I remember feeling this way when we first started to question whether our second child might have some delays. I was fearful and worried and it felt so big because it was such an unknown process for me. 

Once we started services with him, every week I saw progress and I was so validated in speaking up and seeking help. There would be days that I would cry with gratitude because his vocabulary was growing so quickly and his voice was the sweetest music to my ear. 

All along the way, we gathered tools for our “parenting toolbox”. The beauty of these tools, ideas, and methods is that they are totally applicable for other children too. It helped to educate me just as much as it has my boys. More tools means more options to try before I lose my cool. 

After having such a good experience the first time, I had no fear at all in seeking help with our fourth baby when he showed signs of delay with his motor skills. He has also responded very well to help and is quickly catching up with where he needs to be developmentally. 

I’m so thankful for how we have been able to meet these needs and I hope our experiences can help ease worry and fear for other families facing delays. 

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