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Noticing developmental delays in 3-to-4-year-olds

Because children grow on very different timetables, developmental delays can go undiagnosed for years. Delays in 3-to-4-year-old children often are diagnosed by pre-school staff or trained day care workers who are in a good position to notice that children are not learning tasks or engaging socially on a level with their peers. Also, cerebral palsy can emerge in young children as the result of any accident or injury that disrupts oxygen to the brain. These include near-drowning, choking, poisoning, car accidents, severe whip-lash or if a child is shaken too hard (Shaken Baby Syndrome). So if a child suddenly loses skills that he or she once had, be sure to alert your doctor.

The following are some developmental warning signals prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for children in the three to four year old age range who may not be progressing as they should:

Three years:
• Frequent falling and difficulty with stairs
• Difficulty manipulating small objects
• Does not understand simple instructions
• Little interest in other children
• Poor eye contact
• Cannot communicate in short phrases

Four years:
• Cannot throw a ball overhand
• Cannot jump in place
• Cannot grasp a crayon between thumb and fingers
• Resists dressing, sleeping, using the toilet
• Doesn’t use sentences of more than three words
• Experiences a dramatic loss of skills he or she once had

For more information on developmental milestones for three to four year olds as well as advice for transitioning into preschool, visit Cerebral Palsy News: Developmental Milestones Ages 3-4 http://www.cpfamilynetwork.org/cerebral-palsy-articles/cerebral-palsy-news-developmental-milestones-ages-3-4
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