Developmental Milestones have been of prime importance inhuman growth and development ever since in undercovers but lately their importance has blossomed in daylight. Milestones are primarily expected set of physical skills and behaviors right from birth till teens. They are considered as the yardstick to measure the growth and development of an infant as to assess, all is good or in sync. Holding neck, rolling over, turning to sides, hand grip, sitting with support, sitting without support, crawling, walking, and talking are all considered milestones. They vary for each age bracket. The mile stones did not emerge on their own, its only post intense observation and recording they have been set under the expert guidance of developmental pediatricians and child psychologists. They are the result of empirical research work. There is a normal range in which a child may reach each milestone. For instance normal walking range could be between 8 months to 18 months.
Developmental milestone are mainly spread in following areas:
Ø Gross motor skills (sitting, standing, walking, balancing, etc.)
Ø Fine motor skills (using hands to play, eat, draw, etc.)
Ø Language skills (using body language, gestures, speaking, communicating, etc.)
Ø Cognitive skills (learning, understanding, problem solving, remembering, etc.)
Ø Social skills (interacting and cooperating with family, friends, teachers, etc.)
These areas aren’t air tight compartments, they are interconnected. One follows the other. Spurt or delay in one area impacts the others, which is why milestones are keenly observed and recorded by the parents with one major purpose, to ensure that holistic growth and development happens in sync.
Any delay in developmental milestone is considered as “Red Flags” and the requirement of “early interventions” is soon felt to restore the balance. Early years of a human life are considered as the crucial ones in terms of sensory experiences, stimulation and language development.
Brain development too is in multi folds, day to day experiences activate neural pathways in the brain, thereby set up the base for future development and behavior. “Use it or Lose it” and “Use it and Grow it” are the crux factors workable in conducive brain development during initial years.
Delayed developmental milestones seen in children are mainly due to genetic composition, pre- natal and peri- natal conditions, and gaps in neonatal and environmental influences. Early interventions in such conditions is the ideal recommendation,” younger the age, higher the rate of success” since:
Ø maximum motor milestones are achieved during 0-5years
Ø speech and language development is best adapted
Ø brain gains neuroplasticity.
Ø personality attributes start shaping up
Hence, it becomes important to keep a record of the child’s developments and compare with standard milestones checklist.
Benefits of having developmental milestones record sheet as a handy resource
Ø Acts as a check post
Children at times show mild lags at a particular milestone which is fine. The milestone table at this point raise the inquisitiveness as what could be the possible factors responsible for the delay and how can it be bridged. Each child grows at his/her own pace but the considerable delay is recommended to be addressed and taken professional advice.
Ø Assistance to the pediatrician
Every child specialist has a pile of milestones chart along with his other aids. Parents are often handed out the milestones checklist to go through specially in cases where the caretakers are concerned about the delayed speech or walking. The analysis of that helps the doctor see exactly what is missing and what measures can be taken up either in the
form of providing home stimulations or further assessments.
Ø Timely interventions and therapies
Developmental milestones have been a boon to infinite number of children. Timely cross check of the existing and standard ranges have given timely or even before time indicators of conditions like autism and global developmental delays which helped them prepare mentally and set out for interventions like speech therapy, occupational therapy, language therapy, social play groups etc.
“Early intervention services are in fact the help with which the infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays get to acquire many key skills which help them catch the mainstreams. Younger the age, higher the rate of success. Each passing day is super precious in a toddler’s life and they can’t afford the delay.
Ø Help establish the diagnosis
In case the the growth parameters of a toddler are pretty behind, they are considered red flags. The number one thing the doctors do is to check the standard milestones. Other thing at that time would be to see how far behind they are, which ones they have trouble with and what specific areas. Such queries are instrumental in establishing the right diagnosis than beating around the bush. Before diagnosing a child with autism parents are expected to fill many milestones form to help the developmental pediatrician and psychologist to state it officially.
The milestones are achieved through playing, learning, speaking, acting, and moving. Hence opportunities to have ample activities is an important requisite to see children growing optimally. "It's important to understand there are age expected milestones based on an average rate of development," said Danielle Castle, Developmental and Behavioral Health Therapy Manager at Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS). "We need to meet children at their current stage of development," Danielle said. "
“Wait and Watch” approach does not work well in the case of delayed milestones. A swift approach helps conserve a life to the best possible.