“It is okay of my child cannot read and write. My child may be a late bloomer.”
“I only start talking when I am 4 years old, I grew up fine. My child is just like me.”
“My child is only 7, it is ok if he cannot count his numbers yet.”
None of the statements above is incorrect. In fact, these are experiences from parents who may have been through it themselves. Every child is an unique individual and no two children develop the same way. It is essential to keep this in mind that and not let your anxiety takes over you.
Having said that, then when is a good time to raise the red flag that your child may need more help than to just giving them time to grow?
A delay in developmental milestones refers to a significant lag in a child’s physical, cognitive, behavioural, emotional or social development as compared to the typically developing norms. An example of such will be if a typically developing child starts speaking before the age of 2 and your child is struggling to speak his first word at 4 years old, does this raise as an alarm to you? If it does, what should you do next?
For every developmental milestone, there is a normal range in which child may reach that milestone. For children’s developmental milestones, refer to (https://www.kkh.com.sg/patient-care/conditions-treatments/development-growing-up).
These are some of the things which you might observe children doing at different ages but these are not precise guidelines. There are many different normal paces and patterns of development. If you observe that your child does not develop according to the general pattern, consult your doctor for advice.
Getting help early for your child with developmental needs aids to close the widening gaps between your child and peers of his/her age. Positive early experiences are predicted to be essential prerequisites for later success in school, work and life. Early intervention refers to the services provided for children who are found to have delays in their developmental milestones. They will benefit through improving and changing their developmental path.
Intervention is likely to be more effective when provided early than when it is later. Children are like ‘sponges’ and they ‘absorb’ the most when they are still at the age of trying out to make sense of the world. Their curiosity allows them to explore the world without much prior judgement and thus form their own knowledge with the information they ‘absorb’. It is at this crucial point that the information they take in are accurate and help them make sense of how the world around them works. Thus, starting intervention early to scaffold and guide these children will be the best beneficial, especially when it can be done at an early stage.
Early intervention gives your child an opportunity to receive appropriate therapy, giving him or her the best chance for a better outcome in the future. Families benefits from it too by understanding the needs of your child from an early stage and being able to provide the timely support to manage your child.
In Singapore, the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) provides developmental and therapy services for infants and young children with developmental delays by equipping them with different skills such as communication skills, social skills, self-help skills and cognitive skills. These early intervention services seek to maximise the children’s developmental growth potential and minimise the development of other areas of disabilities.
For more information on the range of early intervention services provided in Singapore, kindly refer to SG Enable (https://www.sgenable.sg/pages/content.aspx?path=/for-children/)