Sprouts Child Development:
Don't worry, but don't wait
Shouldn’t he be talking in sentences by now? Is it normal that he’s so friendly with strangers? Are there activities I should be doing with him to help him in his development? These are questions I’ve had as a grandmother. Yes, I raised two children into competent adulthood, so I should remember normal development for children but let’s face it, I’ve slept since then and my memory for the details seems to have disappeared in the blur of the last 25 years. As a grandparent I’ve found myself stretching to remember what my kids did when, and I’ve found that memory can be an unreliable thing. Although each child may reach milestones at a different rate, there is a range of development that is considered in the range of normal development.
There are ways to determine if your child or grandchild, between the ages of birth and five and a half, is on the right track for cognitive, physical and social development. One of the easiest ways is to do the online assessment through Sprouts Child Development. My daughter and I recently did the online Ages and Stages Questionnaire with her twenty-one-month-old son. After some initial basic questions such as birthdate, name, and contact information, there were five areas of development addressed: Communication, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Problem Solving, and Personal-Social. The entire assessment took us about twenty minutes to complete, and we made it a game for my grandson. There were a few questions we weren’t sure about such as, “How many body parts can your child identify?” We knew he knew a few, but as we went through them, we were happy to find out he knew eyes, ears, mouth, nose plus hands, feet and knees. When we came to the gross motor section, we were stumped about whether he knew how to kick a ball by swinging his leg forward, but he quickly showed us he’s a budding soccer star. We also had him demonstrate a jump, and although he wasn’t ready to make a dunk shot, we were happy to see he managed (barely but I did see a tiny gap of air) a two-feet lift off. I think we made the testing fun for him, and we found out some things we weren’t aware he was already doing.
Checking out his building block skills
About a week after we submitted the online assessment, we received an email with his test scores. The results showed the range of normal and if any areas were of concern. Because his scores all fell in the normal range, there was no follow-up suggested, but they did send age-appropriate activities we could do to enhance development in each area. There were activities we hadn’t thought of but now plan to incorporate into our time together. There were many ideas to choose from; I chose several I think my grandson would enjoy, and knowing they are also developmentally beneficial makes me happy.
- Play Dough- Make your own play dough by mixing two cups flour and ¾ cup salt. Add ½ cup water and two tablespoons salad oil. Knead well until it’s smooth and then add food coloring and let the toddler knead until it’s fully blended. They will love squishing, squeezing and pounding the dough.
- My grandson is an outdoors boy, and I loved Sprouts’ idea of setting up a sandbox with measuring cups, funnels, spoons, a bucket, and a colander. Don’t forget the toy trucks to zoom around also.
- I also plan to use Sprouts’ suggestion of setting up a bowling area with used plastic bottles filled with a little water for weight. I’ll use a tennis ball for him to roll to knock down the bottles. I know that activity will be a big hit with my grandson: It involves balls and crashes- what toddler wouldn’t love it?
If there had been an area of concern, we would have received a follow up phone call with recommended intervention. Sprouts' motto is, Don’t worry, but don’t wait. If a delay is detected, early intervention is essential. Sometimes it’s a simple fix. One mother contacted Sprouts because she noticed her child wasn’t developing fine motor skills on schedule, such as being able to pick up a Cheerio or grab a toy. Upon further discussion it was revealed that the pediatrician had recommended the infant should wear hand mitts to avoid face scratching. Unfortunately, the doctor had not mentioned this should be for limited periods of time. The child’s hands were in mitts so much of the time that they hadn’t developed awareness of their hands and use of their fingers. Sprouts therapists intervened, and with therapy the child was able to catch up to the normal developmental stage. This is an example of why early screening and possible intervention is essential in child development.
When my brother was about a year old, my mother began suspecting he had developmental delays, but the medical professionals brushed off her concerns. By the time she was able to get a diagnosis of developmental delays, he was three years old and had missed crucial years of therapy. Thankfully, testing and therapies have advanced since the 1960s when my brother was a child. Early assessment and intervention are crucial, and completing the online Ages and Stages Questionnaire on the Sprouts website is a perfect place to begin. Sprouts is a non-profit organization that provides free online screening and website resources. They also have a team of professionals who provide mid-level assessments in the office and early intervention resource referrals. You can go to their website for more information, http://sproutsdevelopment.com/ or contact them directly at 918-699-4250.