Ask The Experts
Use this guide to track the developmental progress of your child
Additional free tools and materials for tracking milestones, including a phone app, brochures, and books, can be found at the CDC via this link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/freematerials.html
Ask The Experts
How do I know if my child has developmental delays?
Parents know their child better than anyone. If you have concerns about your child’s development, or if you feel like something just isn’t quite right, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! Start by talking with your child’s pediatrician. Parents who have concerns can also initiate an evaluation directly with a developmental specialist.
My child is still young so how would anyone know that something is really wrong?
There are several professionals who are uniquely qualified to recognize typical development and atypical development (development that falls outside the “normal” range) beginning from birth. Early Intervention specialists are trained educators who work with kids from zero to three years. Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians and Child Neurologists can identify developmental concerns in infants and toddlers as well as teenagers. Always trust your gut instinct when it comes to development. Parents can always reach out directly to one of these professionals if they have concerns.
Could the pandemic be adversely affecting my child’s development? Once the pandemic is over will my child’s development improve?
Children learn and practice social skills with peers—sharing, turn-taking, resolving conflict, and more. The more experience they have interacting with peers, the more they learn about how to get along with others.
A prolonged pause in their familiar activities and peer interactions can be confusing and upsetting because children thrive on routine. While younger children might regress a bit in their social skills and behaviors during a stressful period, children are also very resilient. We anticipate that most children will catch up once the episode is over.
In the meantime, parents can coach their children on social-emotional skills and model appropriate self-regulation skills (e.g., “I am so frustrated. I think I’ll take a deep breath to calm myself down”).
A nice website on how parents can support their child’s development during the pandemic can be found at: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/3299-baby-talks-parent-coronavirus-questions-answered
Are there things I can do on my own to promote my child’s development?
Remember to think of development as having 5 components: cognitive (general knowledge and problem-solving skills), language (speaking and understanding), social (friends and play skills), motor (big and little muscles, coordination, posture, and strength), and adaptive skills (how well one copes or cares for themselves independently).
Start by understanding what to look for in all 5 developmental domains over time. These are called developmental milestones. A great place to learn what to expect from month-to-month is https://babynavigator.com/resources/
Who is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders?
Symptoms of Autism are usually evident by the age of 3, though diagnosis may be made as early as 12 to 18 months, and as late as 6 to 9 years (or later). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 1 in 59 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASDs are three to four times more common in boys than in girls. Some children on the more severe end of the spectrum will need ongoing supervision, while others, with the right support, may pursue higher education and fulfilling jobs. These disorders affect people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
What are the current treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders?
There is no one treatment for ASDs, however, it is widely accepted that the earliest interventions allow the best outcomes. Treatments generally address both cognitive and behavioral functioning. They may include a combination of medications (for challenging behaviors), behavioral therapy, psycho-education, family support groups, educational interventions, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and specialized training to develop and improve acquisition of necessary skills. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is also an effective treatment in reinforcing desirable behaviors and reducing undesirable ones.
Can a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder live an independent adult life?
How do I explain my child’s Autism symptoms and behaviors to their sibling(s)?
How do I know if my child has behavioral difficulties?
Who can I contact if I have concerns?
Early Intervention specialists are trained educators who work with children from birth to three years old. Early intervention teams can consist of a range of professionals including speech/language therapists, who work on the development of language skills; occupational therapists, who work on fine motor and sensory issues; physical therapists, who work on gross motor and coordination issues; and specialized instructors, who work on fostering cognitive skills.
Pediatric or Developmental Psychologists are behavioral experts who are trained in identifying normal and abnormal behavior in infants, toddlers, and young children.
Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians and Child Neurologists are medical doctors who are trained to identify developmental and/or behavioral concerns in infants and toddlers as well as older children.
How do I access services?
However, you can also initiate services on your own. The process may vary slightly depending on what state you live in, but every county has an Early Intervention Program (EIP), and you can easily locate their contact information by searching on the internet or asking your pediatrician.
You can also contact most service providers directly. Most will ask to perform an evaluation before starting service to identify what kind of intervention, and how often, may be necessary to help your child.
While most providers who perform evaluations accept insurance, many insurance carriers require a provider’s diagnosis of a developmental and/or behavioral condition before they will cover the cost of certain recommended therapies. Depending on where you live, this diagnosis may need to come from either a medical provider and/or a psychologist.
Remember that a child’s development changes over time. Try to find a specialist who can provide ongoing care and adjust your child’s treatment plan as needed.
What can I expect when my child has an evaluation?
If you are working with your Early Intervention Program, they may interview your regarding your concerns and evaluate your child to determine if they require therapeutic interventions that can be provided in the home.
If you are seeing a psychologist, they may gather a range of information about your child’s medical, social, and behavioral history to identify whether their behavior and development is progressing along a typical course. They may also utilize norm-based assessment tools to quantify the extent of difficulties your child may be having and use this information to develop behavioral therapies.
If you are seeing a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician or Child Neurologist, they will discuss your concerns, conduct a thorough evaluation of your child, and recommend any diagnostic testing or treatment if necessary. These medical providers also perform a physical exam and review the medical history to determine if any underlying medical conditions may be contributing to the troubling symptoms and/or behaviors.
What is ABA?
ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is the science of behavior to make the world a better place. ABA will promote learning new skills, increasing desired behaviors, and decreasing undesired behaviors by arranging the environments based on functions.
Does ABA only benefit children with autism?
ABA is the science of behavior and could be applied to any behavior despite ages, diagnoses, and settings. Abundant research supports the effectiveness of ABA to improve communication skills, social skills, academic skills, productivity, work performance and safety, daily living skills, health and fitness related behavior, sustainable practices, and more (https://www.bacb.com/about-behavior-analysis/).
How many hours of services should my child receive?
Each learner is unique and has specific needs. The number of hours required for each individual will be prescribed through assessments. The prescribed hours are medically necessary. Thus, it is critical to follow the order for the individual to achieve meaningful gains.
Guide For The Home
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NJ State Resources
- Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, by Barry M. Prizant
- The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents), by Elizabeth Verdick and Elizabeth Reeve M.D.
- How to Develop and Implement Visual Supports by Earles-Vollrath, T.L., Tapscott-Cook, K, & Ganz, J.B.
- Visual Strategies for Improving Communication by Hodgdon, L.
- 1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting, Sixth Edition, by Thomas Phelan, PhD
- Outsmarting Autism: Build Healthy Foundations for Communication Socialization, and Behavior at All Ages by Patricia Lemer, LPC (2019)
- An Early Start for Your Child with Autism by Sally Rogers, PhD, Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and Laurie Vismara, PhD (2012)
- Social Skills by Steve Brain (2019)
- Visual Strategies for Improving Communication by Hodgdon, L.
- Social Skills Activities for Kids by Natasha Daniels (2019)
- Growing Up on the Spectrum by Lynn Kern Koegel, PhD (2010)
- Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent’s Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical, and Transition Needs of Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Chantal Sicile-Kira (2006)
- The ASD Independence Workbook: Transitioning Skills for Teens and Young Adults with Autism by Francis Tabone, PhD (2018)
- A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know by Fred Volkmar
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