What if You Suspect a Developmental Delay?

Even if your baby was born healthy, unexpected delays and disabilities can appear as your child grows. It can be scary and confusing to discover your child may have special needs. Mighty Mommy has 5 steps to take if you suspect your child isn’t reaching developmental milestones.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #217

Step #4: Getting the Help You Need

When you speak with your doctor, bring your written records. If you are prepared ahead of time, you will be sure not to leave out something important and to make sure all your concerns are heard. Bring copies for your child's doctor to keep.

After talking, don’t be surprised if the pediatrician tells you not to worry, to be patient, to give your child more time to develop. Often, that’s what parents hear, especially in the early stages of investigating their child’s seeming delays. And it’s often true. Children develop at different rates; the pediatrician is well aware that many children show sudden bursts in development rather than slow, steady growth.

On the other hand, your pediatrician may recommend that a developmental screening be conducted. Its purpose is to see if, yes, your child is actually experiencing a delay. The screening is a general measure of your child’s skills and development. It’s not detailed enough to make a diagnosis, but its results show whether or not a child should be referred for a more in-depth evaluation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics website has a section called "Parenting Corner" with all kinds of information on children's health topics and specific pages on Early Identification/Developmental Screening that provide information for parents and child care providers.

Step #5: What if Your Child is Diagnosed?

If your child is diagnosed with a developmental delay or disability, remember that this is just where he or she is at this particular time. It is just a starting point for getting your child the proper services to help him either overcome the delay or progress to the fullest of his ability.  Support is available in many ways, and in next week’s episode Mighty Mommy is going to focus on coping with a diagnosis and moving forward so that your child can make the best possible progress!

And by the way, I’m proud to say that my first son (now 18, at right) is a perfectly smart, well-adjusted teenager, who has overcome all of his speech delays. This year he will graduate from high school and go on to attend college in the fall. Not only has he not stopped talking since he began making steady and amazing progress between the ages of 3 and 5, but he is also socially outgoing and an incredible athlete, with scholarship potential for pitching in baseball!  

Are you concerned with your child’s development? Please share your story on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.

Check back next week for part two of this series which will focus on coping and moving forward if your child receives a diagnosis. Don’t forget to check out my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT

Remember, you know your child better than anyone! Until next time…happy parenting!


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.