Early Prevention: The Sooner the Better?

 In Articles

It happens to many parents –  you’re concerned that your child isn’t hitting a developmental milestone so you talk to your pediatrician who gives you the  “let’s wait and see what happens” answer.

And while sometimes parents can be worried over nothing, there are times when kids do need intervention in order to develop as they should. In fact, early intervention can be key to helping your child thrive.

If you’re concerned that your child is missing developmental milestones, early intervention therapy could help. Children’s brains develop quickly between toddler and preschool age and it’s when the brain is considered the most “plastic” or malleable. If children receive treatment during this period of rapid brain growth, the therapy can be more effective and prevent more serious problems down the road.

How do I know if my child needs early intervention?

It’s important to remember that each child is different and that no one child will hit the same milestone at the exact same time. However, you should look for certain skills to develop within a range, or window, of time. If you notice that your child is not hitting these markers or is displaying any of the following signs, contact your pediatrician right away:

  • Physical delays- including fine and gross motor skill delays
  • Cognitive delays- difficulty learning, communicating and even trouble being aware of their surroundings.
  • Social, emotional and behavioral delays- this includes trouble communicating or interacting with others and difficulty understanding information or their environments. Usually, disorders like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) fall under this category.

If you child doesn’t develop a skill on time don’t worry, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a serious issue and often therapy can help your child catch up and continue to thrive.

Early Intervention: Why it Works

Research has shown that early intervention is very beneficial especially with disorders like Cerebral Palsy (CP). In fact, an early diagnosis of CP (before the age of one) has shown major benefits for motor and cognitive skills and very few disadvantages. Even if a child is misdiagnosed, while it can cause some distress for the parents, is still overall beneficial for the child.

More research on early intervention has shown that parents play a vital role in advocating for their children to receive therapy earlier.  In the article “Early Identification of children with at risk of development coordination disorder: a scoping review” the authors note that when parents advocate for their children to get the treatment they need sooner,  the early intervention for developmental coordination disorder can prevent secondary, or even worse consequences of the disorder.

Researchers also came to the same conclusion with Autism, and noted that “Early detection and intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) provide an opportunity to foster development, ultimately improving the quality of life and decreasing the lifetime financial and mental health costs associated with ASD.”

Overall, screening and diagnosing disorders earlier (even if the diagnosis may be initially wrong) has many advantages that can help kids have a better quality of life and prevent them from developing more serious complications from certain disorders.

What early intervention therapy is available?

At Pediatric Therapy Center, we offer physical, occupational and speech therapy for early intervention services. Depending on your child’s diagnosis, we will work with you to develop a plan to help your child get the treatment they need. We recognize that each child is unique and our trained therapists will strive to ensure that your child gets the right services to help them thrive.

Pediatric Therapy Center (PTC) offers exceptional, patient-centered occupational, physical and speech/language therapy for children. If you feel your child is struggling developmentally in any way, call PTC at 713.772.1400 for a consultation with one of our experienced therapists today.

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