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Your Child Today: 1 to 2 years

Developmental Delays: How quickly should my child progress?

Our son took his first steps at 13 months. The other babies from our childbirth class all walked at 10 months! Like many mothers, I wondered if something was wrong.

Often, worry about the pace of a baby's development is needless. I found out walking at 13 months is well within normal limits. So consider some general guidelines. By your child's second birthday, he should be able to do the following:

Gross motor skills. Your baby stands, stoops and squats. He walks forward and backward and can run without falling. He walks upstairs, jumps off one step (perhaps holding your hand), and jumps in place, landing on both feet. He can also throw and kick a ball.

Fine motor skills. Your baby can build a tower with four or five blocks. She can separate pop beads. With a crayon, she scribbles and imitates a vertical stroke. She can remove and insert pegs in a board. She can turn book pages and unwrap a package.

If your child's motor skills are significantly delayed, you may also see delays in speech, understanding, self-help skills (feeding and dressing) and social interaction.

Testing and Treatment

If you have concerns, ask your pediatrician to give your child a developmental assessment. If testing indicates delayed development or other problems (such as poor or tight muscle tone or hypersensitivity to touch), your doctor can refer you to a birth-to-3 program in your area.

At age 2-1/2, your child may qualify for a specialized preschool through your public school system. Your child's treatment team may include a special education teacher; physical, occupational and speech therapists; and a psychologist.

After a child's skills are assessed, a family treatment plan is designed to help your child attain specific goals. Perhaps he has poor "righting reactions"?meaning he doesn't extend his arms to catch himself. Treatment might include laying the child on a physioball, encouraging extension, and allowing him to feel his weight fall on his hands.

Group activities teach multiple skills simultaneously. For instance, while bathing and dressing dolls, children practice fine motor skills and follow directions. Sometimes parents realize they have been too quick to do things for their kids.

If you feel alone, seek out a support group through parent-training and information centers. For the name and phone number of your state's parent advocacy group, call the Federation for Children with Special Needs at 617-482-2915.

Also seek out prayer support at church. Remember that God knows your concerns, knows your child's great potential and loves her as much as you do.

?Laurie Winslow Sargent
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

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