From birth to five years of age, height and weight are not the only developmental milestones parents and caregivers should track. Other important milestones include how a child speaks, plays, acts, and learns. For children on the autism spectrum, early detection of developmental delays it critical. With early detection and intervention, children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder are more likely to become enrolled in mainstream kindergarten classes, gain the skills needed to increase social opportunities, and reach their full potential throughout their lifetime.
It is not uncommon for parents and family members to become concerned when their baby or toddler does not seem to be developing normally…”He hasn’t rolled over yet”, or “She has not said her first words yet”, or “the little girl next door is already walking.” While it’s true that children develop differently, at their own pace, and that the range of what’s “normal” development is quite broad, it’s hard not to worry and wonder.
If you think that your child is not developing at the same pace or in the same way as most children their age, it is often a good idea to speak your child’s pediatrician. Explain why you are concerned. Tell the doctor what you have observed with your child. You can express your concern that your child may be showing the signs of a disability or a developmental delay. You can also get in touch with the early intervention program at your local public school and ask to have your little one evaluated to see if he or she has a developmental delay or disability. This evaluation is free of charge, will not hurt your child, or put them at any risk of not being able to attend school. Public school systems are required by law to provide a free and appropriate education to your child, no matter their diagnosis. The free evaluation they provide looks at their basic skills and, based on that evaluation, your child may be eligible for early intervention services designed to address your child’s special needs.