Small red flags
A child was born… But even before he or she was born we had pictured him or her for ourselves, thought about who our baby will become and imagined him or her in our mind. And here he or she came into the world, here he or she is. My fourth child was born several weeks before the due date, and the delivery went smoothly. Everything was good, he was growing and developing. Approximately in a year, I started to notice that he did not turn around when I called his name, and I thought that he was busy with his game or was just ignoring me. My concerns were growing because these things kept happening. No one believed me that something was wrong. Doctors that saw him told that everything was fine. And finally, when he was five and a half years old they made a diagnosis of 'congenital sensorineural hearing loss of 2-3 grade'. With such a diagnosis speech development can be also affected without special intervention classes… and many other areas as well.
This post is for those who notice these ‘red flags’, these signs that must not be disregarded. It is better to double-check, to be overcautious to avoid wasting time, this precious time of early development of a child when a lot of things can be corrected and when you still have a possibility to help your kid.
What should we pay attention to during the first six months?
· No cry right after birth; too high-pitched, or on the contrary, quiet cry like separate screams and sobs when inhaling; monotonous cry without intonation,
· No babbling.
· No reaction to sounds (a child does not become still, does not shudder, does not try to listen nor turns his/her head towards the source of sound).
· No coordinated movements with arms and body. A baby cannot hold the head upright for a long time and does not try to turn it.
· No emotional reactions during social interaction (baby does not smile in response to triggers nor protests); baby does not imitate facial expressions, articulation, the intonation of an adult and does not try to use voice to communicate or get desired things.
· Lethargy, apathy, poor appetite, and too long sleep.
· Hyperactivity, excitability, and irritability. Superficial and discontinuous sleep, constantly bad mood, cry, and discontent.
· Baby does not latch or eats only when asleep, does not accept any complementary feeding except the one he/she got used to.
In all these situations you definitely need to see a specialist (neurologist, pediatrician, special needs specialist). If a doctor cannot see any health issues, it does not mean that you should not take care of your child’s development! Mild developmental abnormalities sometimes might not be seen by a doctor. It is essential that you start implementing a developmental program according to your child's abilities. Your actions may save your baby! You will not lose this precious time during the first months of his/her life, will help your child to overcome a problem, and in case of a false alarm and absence of any issues, these activities will become a great foundation for further successful development of your child.
What should we pay attention to at the age of 6-12 months?
· No babbling and first words or imitation of intonation and rhythm of adults’ speech.
· A baby cannot understand simple everyday words, is unable to point with the finger at familiar objects, parts of body and face when asked by an adult.
· A baby is unable to focus attention, watch the objects and grab them with his/her hands.
· A baby cannot sit alone without support (starting from age of 6 months and older).
· No crawling (starting from age of 7 months and older).
· No attempts to stand on the feet (at 7-8 months and later).
· Preserving of primitive forms of movement activities (for example, snout reflex or grasping reflex after 5-6 months).
· Change in the position of the body after the change in the position of the head (for example, when throwing head back the baby arches the back and stretches arms and legs, or when bending the head forward the baby bends arms and legs, etc.).
· Absence of interest in communication with close people. Absence of emotional reaction to parents.
· Food selectivity.
· Poor sleep quality (baby cannot fall asleep for a long time, cries, wakes up, etc.)
In all these situations you definitely need to see a specialist (neurologist, pediatrician, special needs specialist).
What should parents pay attention to when the child is one to three years old?
· A child cannot walk steadily, has difficulty going up and down the stairs or stepping over the hurdle.
· Manual skills are developing slowly (or are not developing): child cannot pick up a small object with his/her fingers, cannot hold a pencil or open a tap, etc.
· He/she does not respond immediately (or does not respond at all) when is being called by the name, and does not react to music or physical sounds.
· A child does not know main colors and shapes, is unable to stack simple rings or match a cut picture, and cannot understand a principle of a shape sorter.
· He/she does not play with toys, does not use object substitution, and does not make attempts to create the storyline of the game by the age of 3.
· A child cannot understand speech addressed to him/her, does not recognize and cannot point to familiar objects or activities he/she makes in the picture; he/she is unable to show correctly his/her parts of the body that an adult is naming, and cannot understand and fulfill simple requests and instructions.
· There is no development (or extremely slow development) of active vocabulary. I am not referring to specific numbers here, all these things a very individual.
· By the age of 2, the child remains silent or communicates only by using babbling sounds and onomatopoeia.
· By two and a half years old, he/she cannot express verbally his/her desires and needs in an understandable manner and is unable to tell about a recent emotional event, retell a familiar fairy tale or a short story.
· By the age of three, a child speaks an incomprehensible invented language with a lot of speech mistakes.
· A child does not want to communicate with surrounding people, does not play with other children, and is afraid of social interaction.
· We can observe a lot of episodes of a bad mood, crying, weeping from which it is difficult to distract a child or comfort him or her.
· Disrupted sleep (child cannot fall asleep for a long time, wakes up frequently and complains about having nightmares)
· A child does not use a potty.
· He/she does not express joy when sees close ones (and does not get upset when they are not around).
In all these situations it is necessary to take a child to a consult with a pediatric psychologist, neurologist, speech therapist, check his or her physiological hearing and if necessary organize intervention classes. I will repeat myself once again: every child is developing at his o her own individual pace. If your child is not up to date with some of the established periods for certain developmental milestones, do not panic. You will have to seek help from qualified specialists. It is important not to miss real developmental delays. Only a specialist can determine it and choose a way to help. If during an appointment with a specialist developmental delay was determined and sessions with the specialist were recommended to your child, do not disregard this recommendation and enroll your child in a special education kindergarten. There your child will receive special intervention assistance according to his or her needs on daily basis, and you will have your peace of mind in regards to your child’s development. Parents are expected to notice difficulties that a child has and find a way to help.
What should parents pay attention to when the child is 3 to 6-7 years old?
· Delay in development in any of the areas (movement, speech, and thinking). A child is unable to complete tasks appropriate for his/her age, speaks badly (does not speak), walks badly, has difficulties with using a pencil, and scissors, buttoning up, dressing and undressing.
· Child's behavior: has an unusual walking pattern, speaks strangely, makes weird decisions, etc. It is impossible (difficult) to talk a child into something, shift his or her attention, or calm a child down.
· Special characteristics of the game: a game is stereotyped, with repetition of the same movements; there is no storyline or sense in it.
· Special features of the social activity (child does not play with other children, walks or sits alone).
· Hesitations in speech, compulsive movement, urinary incontinence or encopresis.
· Food selectivity
· Disorders of sleep, appetite, toileting, etc.
I really hope that this post will be useful for you. Don't be afraid; do not turn a blind eye to these 'alarming red flags', and may everything be well for your child.