If you are reading this, you may be worried about your child’s development. Your worry is a sign of your love for your child – you want the very best for him or her. You know your child so well, and it always makes good sense to follow up on your concerns.
Perhaps your child isn’t talking as much as other children the same age, or you are concerned that he or she is not walking. Or perhaps there is something about your child’s play or behaviour that worries you.
Or maybe it is somebody else who has the concern. You hadn’t been worried before, but someone has said something that has raised a question in your mind. Perhaps you don’t think they are right, but you want to know for certain.
Whatever your concern, we are here to help you. Often, the first conversation is hardest. Once you have raised your worries, it becomes easier to talk about them.
Should I talk to someone or wait and see?
It is always ok to raise your worries about your child.
You might choose to talk first to a family member or a friend. If this person tells you that there is no need to worry, they may be right. But remember that it is easy to have opinions on how children develop, and opinions are not always based on facts. You know your child best.
If you are still worried, you can:
- Talk to your GP or Child and Family Nurse
- Talk to a trained early childhood educator
- Contact a local NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Provider like Plumtree to see how they can help
- Connect with an Early Linker
If they share your concerns, they will help you to take the next step.
What will it mean for my child and family if there is a problem?
There is no easy answer to this question. Every family’s situation is different.
For some families, there is little impact in the long term. Once the initial worry eases, the main challenge can be the pressure on time. You might need to find some extra time to go to appointments and perhaps to practice new skills.
You might be concerned about the cost of therapy for your child. For children aged 6 and under, you can access support for your child in these early stages through an NDIS ECEI Provider such as Plumtree. Also, free therapy is available through Community Health Centres. Or, if you choose to go to a private therapist, you may be able to have some of the cost covered by Medicare. Talk to your GP about this.
Not every family finds a straightforward solution to their worries. Some families are discovering things about their child that may have a long-term impact. Families may feel anxious about what lies ahead, and sad that their dreams for the future no longer seem to match the reality of their lives.
If this is your story, many families find that it helps to:
- Stay connected to your family, your friends, your community. Let people know how they can make things easier for you.
- Keep doing the things that you enjoy doing together, as a family. Look for ways to have fun and laugh. These will help your child as much as any therapy, and they will help you, too.
- Think about whether you would like to meet other families who have concerns about their child.
- Find and Early Linker to help you to plan a way forward. Early Linkers can work with you to understand your concerns, what is important to you and your family, and then together figure out the next steps.
Children who have difficulties do learn and develop and can grow up to be valued members of the community. Sometimes (indeed, often), our children’s journeys through life are not what we first dreamed of, but there are many ways to live a fulfilling life.
These days, the majority of children with additional needs go to their local schools, even when some extra help is needed. Children with a wide range of abilities take part in all kinds of community activities. We call this ‘inclusion’, and it means that everybody is accepted and respected for who they are, whatever activities they participate in.
Remember, whatever your concern, there are people who can help you. Contact Plumtree if you’d like to talk to someone about your child.