Knowing that you’re different from everyone else can cause a lot of anxiety while growing up, but it’s not easy for the parent either. It can be made more difficult for a number of reasons. Some kids make it obvious. The signs are distinct enough that you know something is different right away. Then again, some children are more high-functioning than others, and will fit in with their peers just fine. This can make it exceedingly difficult to figure out whether or not your child has special needs, especially if you’re not familiar with the signs. Here are some of the things you should be on the lookout for.
One of the biggest concerns for any parent should be knowing that the signs to look for at depend on the age of the child. If you aren’t always around developing children (especially special needs children), then you may not even realize that your child is lagging behind. We often focus on verbal communication when we consider special needs, but a child can have issues with vision and hearing as well, and it’s important to take these functions into consideration too.
If your child has trouble seeing, then he or she might frequently touch or rub at their eyes. If a child tries to track your movement, but never maintains contact, there could be trouble brewing. Pay close attention to how your child interacts with toys, junk lying around on the floor, and other people. If your child complains of aches and pains in the ear or head, has infections and allergies, or speaks with abnormal volume, then he or she might have trouble hearing. Other signs to look for include response time to sounds, or inability to maintain eye contact after an abrupt noise. If your child can’t understand you, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s any mental impairment–your child might just not hear properly.
Knowing whether or not a child has special needs while thinking is much more difficult to recognize because of how brain function progresses. Even by the first birthday, your child should be able to recognize you and the people most often around. By the second birthday, your child should have learned how to point. This signifies learning to identify simple objects. If your child isn’t talking by his or her third birthday, then you should consider finding help.
You should notice your child becoming much more active by the fourth birthday. This is the point in time at which he or she will enjoy storytime and start to become curious and ask questions. In addition, your child should be getting more comfortable when answering the questions you ask. Over the next few years, your child will learn colors, shapes, numbers, and the alphabet. When in a classroom setting, the child’s teacher will likely become aware of any issues you haven’t noticed yourself. However, it’s important that you catch special needs early on in order to combat lasting effects later in life. Doing so can help your child better fit in and adapt to social situations as they arise. It’ll make your life as a parent that much easier as well!