The relationships that children have with their parents and caretakers are vital in enabling them to reach their full developmental potential. While our genes may lay down the foundation, it is the experiences that children have that are the true building blocks and the mortar for them to be able to establish important connections within the brain and grow. The stimuli that a child is exposed to during their early development helps to form lifelong connections in the brain that shape the way they process, associate and prioritize information.
Delays in development can be subtle and are sometimes difficult to detect by parents. Quite strikingly, in our population an estimated 12-16% of children have developmental disorders.
Children who may be developmentally delayed can be significantly helped by important state-regulated programs that can target areas of need and maximize important skills during a vital period of brain development and growth. It is important that developmental delays are identified during this important window of time, where the most success can be achieved through multidisciplinary therapy.
One of the most dynamic and important resources is a state funded program called Early Intervention, which provides family centered plans geared to help children with developmental delays. In addition to the integral speech, occupational, and physical therapy, there are also social workers, nutritional therapists, and both nurses and physicians who provide their services to this fantastic program. Moreover, these services are provided at no cost to the family. Ensure that your child is being regularly followed by their pediatrician and early educators so that they can pick up any early signs of developmental delays if they are present. If you have concerns about your child’s development be sure to raise them with your child’s healthcare provider. If you continue to have concerns or are unable to follow with your physician, you can contact early intervention directly.