Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learn the Signs - Act Early

Parents who know the basic milestones in a child’s development are able to recognize delays and make sure their child receives help to address them.

During their child’s early years, parents are keenly aware of changes in physical development, such as height and weight. There are also important milestones children should reach in terms of how they play, learn, speak, and act. Smiling for the first time, making eye contact, and pointing are a few of these developmental milestones.

Parents need to know about developmental milestones as they are an important way to track a child’s overall development. Also, the earlier a child with a developmental delay receives help, the better chance the child has to achieve his or her full potential.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with a coalition of national partners, recently launched a public awareness campaign, "Learn the Signs. Act Early." The campaign is designed to educate parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and promote early action among parents and health care professionals.

As of now, about half of children with developmental disorders are not diagnosed until school age. Many signs of delay can be easy to see. For example, a two-year-old should be able to:
  • Point to an object when asked
  • Use two- to four-word sentences
  • Follow simple instructions
Every child is different and develops at his or her own pace, but most children reach major milestones within a certain range of time. Parents should learn the milestones, but recognize that their child might develop some skills earlier and some later than other children of the same age.

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