Early intervention

9 Ways to Help Kids With Developmental Delays

By Amanda Morin

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93Found this helpful

Is your child showing signs of developmental delays? If so, you can try strategies at home and get outside help, including early intervention services. Here are some tips to try.

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Learn the signs. Act early.

The more you know about skills to expect at certain ages, the better you’ll be able to spot any lags in development. Talk with your doctor right away if you have concerns about your child’s development.

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Take notes.

Jot down notes about skills you see or don’t see in your child. Include dates. Your observations are very helpful when talking with doctors and early intervention specialists.

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Consider other contributors.

For example, kids born prematurely are often slower to meet developmental milestones. For the first year, consider your preemie’s gestational age, not just her chronological age. If your child was born 10 weeks early, expect her to crawl about 10 weeks later than other babies.

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See the pediatrician.

Your child’s doctor can rule out other problems such as hearing or vision weaknesses, which can interfere with development. The pediatrician can also help explain which skills are appropriate at your child’s age, refer your child to your local early intervention agency, if necessary, and set up other screenings.

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Seek early intervention.

Learn about early intervention services and find out who does free developmental screening. An early intervention agency may recommend an in-depth evaluation of your child’s physical, social, language, adaptive and thinking skills. This is a free or low-cost service.If your child qualifies for early intervention services, you can get an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that will provide help for you and your child.

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Connect with parents online.

Build a community of support on our website. You can trade tips and experiences with parents who’ve been there.

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Start a dialogue.

Be in regular contact with your child’s teacher to exchange information about concerns. Also, talk about strategies for the classroom. The teacher may try informal accommodations to help build your child’s skills.

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Consider an IEP.

Once your child is 3, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can provide services to help her. The early intervention agency will work with you and the preschool to create an IEP. When your child goes to kindergarten, a transition-to-school meeting will be held to transfer her IEP.

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Keep track of progress.

With school supports in place, take notes on your child’s progress. You can talk to your child’s teacher about how she’s progressing and learn about how schools monitor student progress.

View the tips again

6 Things to Do If You’re Denied Early Intervention

If your child doesn’t qualify for early intervention services, it’s not the end of the road. Learn steps you can take to advocate for your child.

6 Tips for Creating Your Child’s IFSP

Your child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is the written game plan for her services. By thinking ahead and bringing notes to the meeting, you’ll be better able to help shape the IFSP.

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Elizabeth Harstad

Elizabeth Harstad, M.D., M.P.H., is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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