Pediatric Physical Therapy: Delayed Milestones

If your child is showing signs of delayed milestones, then they could benefit from pediatric physical therapy to help them reach their targets and improve their development.

Developmental Milestone Delay
Dr. Nancy performing pediatric physical therapy with an infant that has delayed milestones.

Child Development Milestones

Child development milestones are the theoretical stages of a child’s development and can help track a child’s physical and mental growth.

What to do if Your Child is Missing Developmental Milestones

It’s important to remember that not all children will develop at the same rate and that the developmental milestones are just a guideline to follow. It is not uncommon for children to grow more quickly in some areas than others, however, if your child is showing developmental delay in more than one area for their age range, or have yet to reach the milestone for the age-range below, then they could be experiencing a developmental delay and may benefit from developmental physical therapy.

Developmental Milestone Delay
Dr. Nancy performing tummy-time therapy with an infant.

The CDC’s Developmental Milestones

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, has published its own set of child development milestones broken down by age category and supported with images and videos. To help parents track their child’s progress towards their developmental milestones, the CDC has also created a free milestone tracker app which is available for both Android and Apple devices.

Developmental Delay

Abnormal progress towards child development milestones is often called developmental delay and occurs when children do not reach a milestone by an expected age. Developmental delays are not uncommon with the CDC estimating that approximately 15% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have one or more developmental disabilities. Developmental delays can occur in one or multiple areas of a child’s development, and in cases where multiple areas are affected, they are usually connected.

Developmental Milestone Delay
Dr. Nancy helping to improve a child’s sitting balance and core control.

What Causes a Developmental Delay?

Genetic and environmental factors can play a role in developmental delays. Many developmental disabilities occur before a child is born. Aside from being caused by chromosomal genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome, a developmental delay can also be a symptom of a range of other conditions including:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Myopathies
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • And Landau Kleffner syndrome

There are also many environmental factors that can contribute to a developmental delay, including but not limited to:

  • Premature birth
  • Exposure to toxins during pregnancy or after birth
  • And lifestyle factors such as poverty in the home, lack of nutrition, or lack of care

Developmental Milestone Delay

Signs of a Developmental Delay

As previously mentioned, it is not uncommon for children to develop at a slightly different rate to the milestones set out by the CDC, which makes it difficult for parents to know if their child is just developing more slowly or if they have a more serious developmental delay. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Vision delays
    If your child does not notice their hands by two months, does not follow moving objects by three months, and does not follow near objects by six months, these could be signs that they are experiencing an issue with their vision.
  • Cognitive delays
    Cognitive delays can be an early indicator of Autism Spectrum Disorders or a learning disability. Signs of a cognitive delay include not making babbling noises, not copying gestures, and not showing an interest in other people.
  • Motor delays
    If your child is having difficulties holding a pencil or using utensils, they could have a fine motor delay. Gross motor delays affect their ability to walk or crawl and usually begin to present themselves after 3-4 months when your baby should be reaching and grasping for objects, and then by five months when they start to try and roll.
  • Language and speech delays
    Early language development can be very uneven, but in general, your child should be attempting to babble by 3-4 months and should be imitating sounds by four months. If they are unresponsive to sounds by seven months or have not used any words by age one, this could be a sign of a speech delay.
  • Global development delay
    If your child is showing delays in all of the categories above, then they may have a global development delay.

Developmental Milestone Delay

Delayed Milestone Treatments

Depending on the specific delay that your child is experiencing, there are different treatment options available that can help them to maximize their abilities. If you have been tracking the progress of your child towards their milestones and are concerned that they may have a developmental delay, then you should reach out to a doctor who will be able to provide further testing. A trained pediatric physical therapist can diagnose and treat delays right away. Pediatric physical therapy is important to start right away to help get your child on track as soon as possible. While a pediatrician can prescribe physical therapy, a script is not required and you can avoid a delay in care by simply setting up an evaluation with a pediatric physical therapist. A pediatric physical therapist can perform a thorough evaluation and create a plan of care to address your child’s needs. Most insurance plans cover pediatric physical therapy as they recognize that getting care early can prevent future issues and complications.

Pediatric Physical Therapy for Developmental Delays

Most children with a developmental delay, especially if it affects their movement, can benefit from pediatric physical therapy. To get the most out of the treatment, it is best to try and start physical therapy as early as possible following diagnosis, to ensure that they do not fall further behind.

Depending on where a child is experiencing a delay, physical therapy treatment may focus on different things, such as increasing muscle strength, stretching, improving coordination and balance, promoting independence, or aiding with achieving milestones and maximum potential. The treatment methods used by the practitioner may vary but could involve a number of different exercises including those to aid body control, mirror imaging for self-awareness, positioning to support the head and trunk, exercises to teach new ways of movement and hydrotherapy to relax stiff muscles or joints and to aid mobility.

Speech and Language Therapy for Developmental Delays

If a child has a developmental delay in speech, language, or communication then speech and language therapy could help them to develop the skills that they need. It is not uncommon for a child to be more capable in one area of communication than another, but with speech and language therapy, a therapist can help them to build upon their current skills and to reduce their areas of weakness to form a more rounded communicative ability. Our physical therapists work closely with speech therapists to maximize clinical outcomes. Our team specializes in tongue-tie therapy, and we work with a team of practitioners that are experts in treating this effectively.

Developmental Milestone Delay
Dr. Nancy performing pediatric physical therapy. This child was born prematurely and needed three abdominal surgeries before turning one month old. She needed pediatric physical therapy to improve her core and hip stabilizers. She was tripping often and had difficulty with playing sports. This child’s confidence was impacted negatively, but with proper footwear recommendations and great physical therapy, she is doing everything she loves to do without a problem!

Developmental Delay Therapy at Holistic Healing Center

Here at Holistic Healing Center, we offer several holistic therapies that can benefit children with developmental delays, including pediatric physical therapy. We work with a team of multidisciplinary experts that work together to create for your child a developmental treatment plan that will help them to maximize their abilities and to progress towards their developmental milestones. To find out more about what we do and the services that we offer, call us or text us at 732.252.6155 or email us.

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Meet Our Developmental Milestone Delay Team Member

Dr. Julia Guerrero

Dr. Julia specializes in holistic medicine, pelvic health, and pediatrics.

Pediatric Physical Therapy

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