When parents learn their child has been diagnosed with some form of developmental delay, the most difficult part is taking the first step towards early intervention.
Generally speaking, early intervention is highly recommended if parents don’t want a delay resulting in their child’s complete disability. However (maybe because out of stress or fear), parents may end up making the process to be more complicated and difficult.
First of all, it is important to remember that even a developmental delay is not the end of the world for your child. There is still hope that intervention can train the brain to overcome their difficulties and even normalise them as they grow older.
Therefore, instead of panicking, consider taking these immediate measures to set you on a guided path to the proper intervention your child needs.
1. Map the exact areas of development where your child is delayed.
Remember, global developmental delay comes in many forms but all are classified according to specific areas that a child is supposed to have skills in at a certain age. For example, a child can be delayed in motor skills but not communication. Alternatively, a child can have excellent physical ability but has difficulty understanding spoken instructions and communication.
If your child has a delay, then the first thing you want to ask the doctor is specify which of these areas are they delayed in. It will help you identify exactly what type of intervention methods to expect, and the type of support programs the doctor will recommend. For example, a child who has trouble understanding instructions might benefit from a program that helps their auditory processing.
2. Understand the possibility that they may have disabilities.
It is perfectly understandable to have fears about possible disabilities when your child’s developmental delays are diagnosed. However, that does not make it alright to stay paralysed and not have a more mature understanding of this possibility.
This starts with first acknowledging that having one developmental delay is not necessarily a sign of something more serious (such as autism), but having more delays can. The sooner you are more emotionally prepared for either of these possibilities, the better it will be for your family.
3. Prepare to make adjustments to communication or environment.
When you know the areas your child is delayed in, then it will be easier to implement the lifestyle changes that come with intervention.
If your child has delays in movement, then that means providing assistance or accessibility tools. If your child’s delays make it hard for him or her to understand spoken instructions, then it might mean speaking more slowly and in quieter spaces.
4. Get a thorough understanding of the training methods and tools of the intervention.
There is certainly no shortage of various methods aimed at helping children with developmental delays, whether it takes the form of private tutors or programs like Tomatis® that provide brain-ear training.
Whichever methods (or even a combination of methods) you choose, take extra effort in understanding how they all work. This can provide you with a number of benefits such as a better understanding of your child’s condition, or even how you can use the method to help you as well!
Much like any sort of emergency, panicking is never the best response to things like a GDD diagnosis. It makes it much harder to have the proper mindset and take the necessary first steps towards early intervention. Keep calm, do what you can and know that there is always hope for you and your child!