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Warning Signs

Parents and professionals can learn about the development of children by observing and evaluating the specific areas of development. These areas are commonly referred to as developmental domains. Each child develops at a different pace although certain developmental milestones are expected to be achieved by certain ages. The developmental domains are listed below with some indicators which describe areas of concern.

Communication is ability to use language to communicate thoughts and ideas (expressive) and to understand other’s communicative intents (receptive).

Concerns can be:

  • Not babbling by 12 months
  • Sudden onset of babbling followed by cessation
  • Not gesturing (pointing, waving bye-bye, etc.) by 12 months
  • No single words by 16 months
  • No two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
  • Any loss of any language or social skills at any age

Cognitive skills involve the development of thinking and problem solving.

Concerns can be:

  • Does not search for dropped object by 6-7 months
  • Does not participate in imitative play by 18 months
  • No pretend play by 24 months
  • No sorting by 1 variable by 27 months
  • Doesn’t know colors or any letters by 5 years

Fine motor skills involve the smaller muscles used by the hands and mouth.

Concerns can be:

  • Hand fisted after 6 months
  • Showing a hand preference before 24 months
  • Not bringing hands to midline by 10 months or clapping by 12 months
  • Not able to intentionally release an item by 12 months
  • Not using thumb and finger (s) to pick up small objects by 12 months

Gross Motor is the development of large muscles that involve locomotion and balance.

Concerns can be:

  • Not holding head up by three months
  • Not sitting with support by 7 months
  • Not supporting weight on legs by 7 months
  • Not cruising by 15 months
  • Inability to walk up and down stairs at 24 months
  • High or low muscle tone

Social and emotional skills involve regulating emotional states and engaging socially with others.

Concerns can be:

  • Doesn’t smile at the sound of your voice by 2 months
  • Doesn’t seem to enjoy being around people by 4-7 months
  • Does not imitate actions or words by 24 months
  • Lashes out without any self-control when angry or upset
  • Exhibits extremely aggressive, fearful, or timid behavior
  • Can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality

Adaptive skills allow us to take care of our physiological and emotional needs. Often referred to as self-help skills

Concerns can be:

  • Not tolerating pureed foods by 9 months
  • Not tolerating solid foods by 12 months
  • Not assisting with undressing by 15 months
  • Not staying dry during the day by 4 years old
  • Stuffing food or choking while eating

If you are concerned about any of your child’s areas of development be sure to contact your child’s primary health care provider and let him/her know of your concern. It is important to discuss with your child’s doctor to find out if your child’s possible delay may be due to a health related condition. Additionally, you may call Help Me Grow (1.707.422.2229) to be connected to a community based developmental screening.

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