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What should I do if my child needs extra help?: A story of Early Intervention

One of the hardest things I've had to face as a single parent has been coming to terms with my child's developmental delays. At the age of two, I noticed that my daughter still had difficulty expressing herself verbally and heavily relied on gestures like pointing or grabbing me by the hand towards items she wanted. Initially, I figured "she's just moving at her own pace", but this struggle became more visible when she would get so frustrated that I could not understand her that she would tantrum or hit me.

As a special education teacher, I knew that developmentally, this was not age appropriate. To add, I started paying attention to how well she communicated verbally and nonverbally as we accomplished daily tasks (i.e. bathing or feeding). From my observations, I noted that my child had less than 25 words in her vocabulary and the words she did know were not always used for proper communication such as asking for unmet needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two year olds should be completing the following milestones

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Notices when others are hurt or upset, like pausing or looking sad when someone is crying

  • Looks at your face to see how to react in a new situation

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Points to things in a book when you ask, like “Where is the bear?”

  • Says at least two words together, like “More milk.”

  • Points to at least two body parts when you ask him to show you

  • Uses more gestures than just waving and pointing, like blowing a kiss or nodding yes

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Holds something in one hand while using the other hand; for example, holding a container and taking the lid off

  • Tries to use switches, knobs, or buttons on a toy

  • Plays with more than one toy at the same time, like putting toy food on a toy plate

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Kicks a ball

  • Runs

  • Walks (not climbs) up a few stairs with or without help

  • Eats with a spoon








Finally, I used my resources and reached out to the school psychologist who works with my students. She was kind enough to provide me with the information of an evaluation center who assesses children for early intervention; early interventions are "the services and supports that are available to babies and young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families.". Going through the process broke me as a mother, and I felt instant guilt! I felt as if I was neglectful and responsible for my child's lack of growth.

However, God sustained me through it all! He reminded me that children are gifts from him and that as a parent we are entrusted with the nourishment we provide them. It is our duty to step in and give them the best of everything, therefore, he left it in my power to fight for my child's right to these services. Beginning in July of 2023, she was found eligible for speech therapy and has a preschool Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that allows her to continue these services while in school. Fast forward 10 months, and my daughter is thriving.


 

Do you think your child is struggling developmentally? Here are some resources you can use to help you throughout your journey.

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