As awareness about the number of children experiencing developmental delay increases – many parents are seeking answers about how to best help their child.
Whether it is problems with their child’s communication, behaviour or learning – it can be hard to know what to do or who to turn to.
VMCH Speech Pathologist, Dana, encourages parents to seek help if they are concerned about their child’s development. For younger children, a maternal and child healthcare nurse, general practitioner or pediatrician can be a good place to start. As children grow, parents may receive feedback from their education environments (such as childcare, kindergarten and school) regarding their developmental progress. If your child is experiencing developmental difficulties, an inter-disciplinary team approach can be beneficial in supporting your child.
Dana and psychologist, Justina, form the VMCH Developmental Assessment Clinic. They use an inter-disciplinary approach to help families better understand their young child’s strengths and challenges, and then determine if those difficulties fit a particular pattern of diagnosis.
Following referral to the Development Assessment Clinic team an intake appointment allows parents to share their concerns and for the team to establish a plan for assessment.
The assessment team can also conduct Autism Assessments, in consultation with the child’s consultant paediatrician. VMCH psychologist can also complete cognitive assessments to better understand a child’s learning style and needs.
When the assessment team have completed a comprehensive assessment, they meet with families again for feedback and provide a comprehensive report. During the feedback session, they discuss ideas about where therapy efforts can best be directed and guide parents in taking the next step in assisting their child.
The early days of a diagnosis of a disability or development delay can be a stressful time for families. It can be reassuring to know that they are not alone and there are many health and education experts that can support them and their child.
When a child experiences difficulties communicating their wants, needs, feelings and ideas – a speech pathologist can help. They can also help with feeding difficulties.
Occupational therapists aim to enhance a child’s ability to participate in their community and everyday tasks. They can help children develop skills to enhance their independence, social participation and play skills.
Challenging behaviours can often be associated with developmental delays. A psychologist can provide strategies to improve participation in family and community life.
Early childhood educators can play an important role in helping children with learning or developmental delays start preschool, kindergarten and school with all the right supports behind them.
Physiotherapists can help improve children’s mobility and participate in school and community life. Their programs aim to support children to develop things like strength, endurance, manage muscle tightness and joint stiffness.