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How to Help a Child with a Developmental Delay

If your child with autism has been diagnosed with one or more developmental delays, getting them the proper help in the appropriate amount of time is critical. However, this also means you must be aware of what constitutes quality therapy and how to find the best practitioners; otherwise, they may be at risk of further delay.

In this piece, we’ll go over types of developmental delays, best practices for different ages and environments, and how you can position your child for success via proper treatment.

What is a Developmental Delay?

A developmental delay is when a child has not started or refined certain skills relative to their peers at the same age. These age-expectations are defined by month or year ranges, and while no child develops at the same rate, at some point it is worth appraising a delay as significant and treatment worthy.

These delays often fall under categories such as cognitive, social, behavioral, communicative, or emotional delays. When your child does not hit the upper range of developmental milestones, it is often time to act, as early intervention has proven to be one of the most significant elements for effective treatment. Thus, we always advocate that your child’s doctor be consulted if you believe you might be observing a developmental disability.

Parent with their child

How to Treat a Child with a Development Delay

We all want the best treatment for our children, and because each of them is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. However, these methods have shown profound results to treat a wide range of developmental delays:

Play-Based Approach

A play-based therapy approach is highly effective as it teaches motivation and children are able to learn to communicate, play, and interact socially. Common activities include:

  • Playing outside
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Playing with dolls, play food, or cars

While these are just a couple of examples, any activity that the child likes can be used.

ABA sessions are no shorter than 2 hours and can last up to 40 hours per week. The number of hours is based on what is clinically and medically necessary and determined by the BCBA. Weekly sessions of 1:1 are common at Ally Pediatric Therapy, and they promote growth in delayed areas such as:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Social interactions with peers + adults
  • Communication skills
  • Self-efficacy and awareness of surroundings
  • Empathy and respect for others

Ultimately, these sessions can lay a foundation for areas of life skills that you or an ABA therapist can use time and again to promote developmental growth.
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Speech Therapy

If your child has developmental delays in speech or communication, it is imperative they work with a licensed speech-language pathologist. Common speech therapy techniques include:

  • Facial muscle + word formation exercises
  • Articulation or the pronunciation of language
  • Sentence structure and the use of language
  • Interactive picture boards

These activities can and will be worked into a full ABA framework, and can promote growth in your child to improve a range of skills including:

  • Making clearer speech sounds
  • Responding to questions
  • Modulating tone of voice
  • Communicating about objects and emotions
  • Understanding body language

Another great benefit of speech therapy is that it is one of the primary keys to unlocking a mutual dialogue about developmental delays in your child. After all, the goal is to create as much independence for your child and promote their ability to express themselves for a better quality of life.

How Can Parents/Guardians Help Children With Developmental Delays?

Play-based therapy approach, speech therapy, and other methods of treating developmental delays require consistent practice across all environments. This means your clinicians, therapists, educators, and family members should be working to promote healthy habits and use approved generalization techniques whenever possible.

Child playing with toys

This can include simple games with your child, reading to them, encouraging “mama” and “dada” style sound formation, and any other home-based activities that are congruent with your child’s ABA framework. Make sure to communicate with your child’s ABA therapist and SLP about which practices are appropriate for specific behaviors across environments for your child.

Autism Treatment at Ally Pediatric Therapy

At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our team of licensed professionals works with parents and children alike to create frameworks for success. We have decades of experience treating developmental delays in the context of autism and ABA therapy, and we help families overcome obstacles for a healthier life.

If you are looking to start a conversation about ABA therapy, please contact us for a consultation today. We’d love to help your child reach their full potential as soon as possible.