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development delays -- is our son catching up?
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development delays -- is our son catching up?

Our son was diagnosed with developmental delays in cognitive, language, gross and fine motor and social skills at age 16.5 months through our local 0-3 program.  At that time he could not even sit up on his own (he'd sit when placed), crawl or walk, had no expressive (and little receptive) lanugage and the psychologist on the team noted a definite lack of consistent eye gaze/social referencing.

Since that day in September, he was also diagnosed with intermittent exotropia, and has since gotten prism glasses and undergoes vision therapy weekly.

Now at 20 months, he's sitting up on his own, crawling up stairs, walking forwards and backwards, and turning well.  His social skills have come a long way -- he looks to us often (and even to people he's just met) for our response to his actions. He's started to play "chase" with his 30-month-old cousin (he laughs and squeals when he catches up with her, looking right at her). He seeks our attention and rewards us with huge smiles and laughs.  When he saw me cry last week, he got very concerned and came over to me.  He'll mimic funny faces, but not gross motor activities.  We can see him beginning to understand more of what we say, and he will respond appropriately to "come here" and "where's your shoe?"  If asked "where's Mommy/Daddy/the dog?" he looks in the right direction.  He responds to his name now almost consistently (never did at 16.5 months).  He makes all consonant and vowel sounds, and will sometimes mimic you when you make a sound (like "bah bah bah").  He's just started to point in the last week, both as a comment and as a request.  He's trying to stack one block on another.  He now knows how to push the buttons on most of his toys to operate them.  He even "answers" the toy phone by placing it to his ear after it rings.

I can't get a straight answer from any of his doctors or therapists yet as to how behind he is -- each gives me a piece of the puzzle, but I'm having a hard time getting anyone to give me a firm read on where he's at developmentally, how far behind he is, and what his prognosis is.  We've seen such a rapid spurt of developmental milestones in the two months since he got his glasses that I'm hopeful that may have been the biggest problem -- but all the medical information I can find points to developmental delays as leading to mental retardation.  We're going back to meet with a pediatric neurologist to get the results of genetic and metabolic testing in a few weeks, and an MRI is scheduled in two weeks (that we'd really rather not do if at all possible).

Can you provide me some ballpark on where he sits developmentally at this point?

Thanks
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It is clear that your son is closing the gap in achievement of various developmental landmarks. It is important to remember that development usually does not proceed at the same pace in all spheres (e.g., gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, social, emotional). And it is not the case that developmental gaps or delays are indicative of mental retardation. There are many developmental disorders manifested in children of normal intelligence. By about the age of three or so it will be possible to have your son undergo some testing to help assess his overall cognitive development. It's not really sensible to try to do this yet. Due to your son's early developmental delays, he will lilely continue to show unevenness in his development. It is too early to know if he will 'catch up' in all areas. Time will tell. I can see you have scrutinized charts of normal development, and these can be relied upon, in a gross way, to figure out approximately what a child should show at various stages. I just want to reassure you that you should not place undue emphasis on the achievement of any particular milestone - some areas might be on target, some might be behind. Certainly by the time a child is two, you'd expect that he could walk, convey needs/wants in ways other than by crying, use words like ma-ma and da-da to indicate parents, scribble with a pencil or crayon, feed himself using a spoon, and have a limited vocabulary (often only a few words), be able to climb stairs (not by crawling up the stairs) and be able to jump a bit. A two-year-old should display the capacity to engage with others (vs ignoring others), though the actual amount if interaction will vary depending on the familiarity of the person.
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Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply.  Sometimes I just need a little support and guidance -- and this helps.

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