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by Analisa Smith, Chair, Early Childhood Committee
by Analisa Smith, Chair, Early Childhood Committee

It has often been said that parents are their children’s first teachers. Parents need to be aware that they are first in the line of advocacy to getting others to understand what their children need. Parents can use developmental milestones and information from teachers and medical personnel to determine if their child is on the proper developmental path for his or her age. It is always important to be aware that each child develops at his or her time schedule, but each milestone of development should not be too far off from the recommended development path.

If, as a parent, you feel that your child is not making proper or adequate developmental progress, it is important to seek assistance and support. Parents can search for localized or online support groups. State Parent Teacher Information Centers (PTICs) are also a great resource that a parent can tap into free of charge to locate resources and support. Parents need reassurance as issues in development appear. It is important for parents to find the support needed from their own self education, from family relationships and from their communities.

At times, parents may not recognize when developmental milestones that are slightly delayed are not being met, but close family members and friends may. If you notice that a family member or friend expresses concern, it may be important to make note of what is expressed by others to discuss with a pediatrician. Sometimes parents can also note some mild delays that can be dismissed by doctors or educational providers. If you feel that something is needed for your child to help them accomplish the steps needed to reach critical skills in development, do not let doctors or educational service providers push away your concerns.

If your child is actually experiencing a developmental delay, time can be of the essence in seeking treatment or services. Requests to the appropriate service evaluator or provider can be completed to move processes along and to ensure children getting access to needed services without undue delays. Service evaluators and providers might include, but not be limited to (dependent upon concerns): pediatricians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, audiologist, speech-language pathologists, early interventionists, and/or educational therapists. Finding the correct early interventions can help a child make progress and correct delays at times. Some students may also need to continue interventions into the school years.

Parents can also conduct activities with their children at home that stimulate thought, mental growth, and play development skills. Parents can take their children to play group activities. Trips can be taken as a family to the park and/or to the library. Church time and visiting with other family members encourages interaction and conversation skills. Some communities also offer community websites that list activities that are child and family friendly and can help a child with developmental or learning delays.

In the end, it is important that parents recognize that their voice and opinions are equal to that of medical and educational professionals and service providers. Parents are the first teacher, the first line of defense, and their child’s first advocate. Reach out to others for support and be the voice for your child.

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