Taking your child to his regular checkup is one way of making sure he or she is on track with their developmental milestones. Some physicians have training in various areas of development, some do not. Use the information below, and the questions provided, to get the information you need from your doctor as your child grows.
General Domains of Development in Infancy and Early Childhood
Social/emotional development refers to a child’s emotional well-being and interactions with others, and how he responds to or deals with a variety of social situations. For infants and young children, crying to communicate needs, smiling, and playing alongside or with other children are examples of skills they exhibit in this domain.
Speech and Language development covers both receptive communication (what a child understands when others speak) and expressive communication skills (what and how a child is able to communicate effectively to others through speech).
Cognitive/General Knowledge. This domain includes skills like moving a barrier to find a hidden object, counting objects, naming pictures, and matching colors.
Gross Motor development deals with how well an infant or child can manipulate the large muscles of her body. Crawling, walking, jumping, and throwing a ball are all gross motor/large muscle skills.
Fine Motor development is the domain for the small muscles. Holding small bits of food in their fingers, marking with a crayon, and demonstrating hand-eye coordination are examples of fine motor skills.
Self-Help skills include feeding, expressing needs through verbal or non-verbal communication, and overcoming obstacles to solve a problem. When a child climbs on a step stool or large book to reach something, he is demonstrating a self-help skill.
If you’re concerned about how or whether your child is demonstrating skills in the above areas, your doctor may be the first person to go to. Here are a few questions to ask your child’s pediatrician about development:
1. What training have you had in infant and early child development?
2. What are some red flags I should watch for as I watch my child master, or struggle to master, various skills?
3. Do you have patients who have special needs, requiring them to receive Early Intervention services? Do you have the contact information for those in charge of providing such services to children and families?
4. There are various tasks children are asked to demonstrate at regular appointments. What do these tasks tell you about my child?
5. How can I help my infant/toddler/preschooler with developmental skills they may be missing or struggling to master?
6. What are the developmental milestones you are most concerned about as my child enters school?
7. What causes developmental delays?
8. How are developmental delays diagnosed?
9. How are developmental delays treated?
10. What is the prognosis for developmental delays?
It is important to remember that every child may or may not demonstrate all the skills in every domain. Sometimes this might mean there is a problem, sometimes it does not. Be sure to bring your concerns and questions not only to your child’s doctor, but also to someone trained in assessing childhood development.
-Jessica Glenbocki MOT, OTR/L