Children should be evaluated by pediatricians regularly to ensure they are on track. Early milestones, such as rolling over, smiling, babbling, sitting up, crawling, or walking, emerge fairly predictably. While attainment can vary, a significant delay is cause for investigation. Speech, gross motor, and fine motor delays are evident early on, while high-level cognitive, sensory processing, social and emotional delays might only become obvious when the child enters peer groups (in daycare or school.) Early diagnosis is vital to long-term success. Children should be evaluated regularly and begin necessary treatment immediately. Special needs doctors and pediatricians may be recommended if delays are evident.
Medical histories, parent interviews, physical examinations, developmental assessment, and hearing tests are methods used to diagnose developmental delays. Understanding external factors, such as the child’s birth, prenatal complications, and family history can aid physicians in diagnosis. After gathering this information, pediatricians will complete physical examinations. This may include looking for atypical growth patterns or abnormalities in general appearances, gross and fine motor delay, or problems with speech. During these routine checkups, pediatricians will also examine reflexes, muscle tone, and balance. They may be asked to complete age-appropriate physical tasks. Evaluating social development involves observing a child’s behavior in interactions with others. Hearing tests are conducted to reveal potential implications on speech and language skills. This information allows the physician to get a good idea of the child’s overall function.
Minor delays need not raise an alarm. However, ongoing or multiple delays may signal a greater cause for investigation. Signs of developmental delay in developing fine or gross motor functions include floppy or loose trunk and limbs, stiff arms and legs, limited movement in arms and legs, inability to sit without support by nine months, dominance of involuntary reflexes over voluntary movements, or the inability to bear weight on legs or stand by one-year-old. Signs of developmental speech delays include inability to say two or three words by 12-14 months, inability to speak in brief sentences by age three. Signs of language delays include difficulty understanding what other people say or an inability to express their own thoughts.
The three types tend to share a number of traits. Common features of Down syndrome include small skull, upward slant of eyes and epicanthic fold, oblique palpebral fissure, small nose and a flat nasal bridge, narrow palate, small teeth, protruding tongue, small ears, short hands, simian crease, delayed development, behavioral problems and cognitive disability.