Read More: First steps if you are concerned your child may be delayed
As a parent, if you become concerned about your child's development, that he or she isn't meeting the same milestones as maybe other same age children, the first thing to do is talk to your pediatrician.
Let the pediatrician know what your concerns are and what you feel like your child's abilities are right now. Also, you can discuss what you feel your child's abilities should be. The pediatrician can give you guidance on whether the child is really behind or if he or she is within the range of what is considered typical.
Speak to your pediatrician
I would encourage that the first step is to speak with the pediatrician. Sometimes it's the pediatrician who is the first to raise concern. It is common for first-time parents to not really know what's typical development, and that is okay.
That interaction between the parent and the pediatrician can give guidance on what would be the next step for further evaluation. The next step might be an evaluation by a specialist such as a developmental pediatrician.
Evaluation by a specialist
A developmental pediatrician does just what it sounds like; it is a pediatrician who specializes in child development. Sometimes a pediatric neurologist or an early intervention state program may evaluate a child's developmental milestones.
A specialist evaluation can give a more objective assessment on where the child is at in meeting his or her developmental milestones. Depending upon the evaluation, a specialist may diagnose the child with developmental delay.
Finding appropriate therapies
A specialist can also provide guidance on the next steps after a formal evaluation. One commonly recommended pathway is therapy, which can be one of the most important next steps. Therapies can help the child reach milestones, identify specific challenges, and help overcome their challenges.
At the same time as a formal developmental evaluation may take place, the doctor may try to identify the underlying medical reason for why a child is not meeting his or her milestones. Diagnoses like developmental delay and autism are clinical diagnoses made from observing a child in a clinical setting. These clinical diagnoses describe a set of symptoms.
Diagnosis of developmental delay doesn't tell you why the child is delayed
A diagnosis of developmental delay doesn't tell you why the child is delayed. There can be many reasons. Often there is a genetic or a medical reason, both of which can be important to try figure out.