We all have probably learned how to raise a child from our own parents, friends who have children, and by reading parenting books or attending a parenting workshop or a seminar. Most of us created a baby book or two with important milestones: the first smile, the first tooth, the first word and the first step, etc.
Family doctors and pediatricians help us chart development and compare our children to the rest of their peers: from weight, height and head's circumference to temperament, eating and sleeping habits. However, these medical professionals are not necessarily the first people, who notice when there is something is not right, unless you bring your worry to them. Parents usually have a gut feeling that something is actually wrong. (I'd say trust your gut! The majority of defense responses of the immune system is located there.)
Some doctors prefer to refer a child to a specialist such as a developmental pediatrician, psychologist or a pediatric neurologist to determine or confirm a delay or a disorder that qualifies as a disability. All of these extra steps take time, and time is precious. While you are waiting for an expert opinion, you can do a few things yourself. Below is a list of online tools and resources that should give you a jumpstart.
1. The Nipissing District Developmental Screen (NDDS Ontario)
2. Toronto Preschool Speech & Language Services:
Communication Checklist (TPSLS)
Hearing Checklist (TPSLS)
Red Flags Vision Checklist (TPSLS)
3. The Hanen Centre Resource Page
Autism Checklist: What to Look For
Canadian Research Agenda in Early Autism (CAIRN)
Symptoms of Autism
Geneva Centre for Autism (Toronto, ON)
DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria
Center- Based Assessment Services
Geneva Centre for Autism
Surrey Place Centre
Kerry's Place Autism Services
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Child Development Program) http://www.hollandbloorview.ca/programsandservices/childdevelopment/index.php
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Remember, it is important to track your child's development continuously to determine whether or not s/he meets the developmental milestone appropriate for her age. Even if you spot a problem, it is good to know what to focus on to help your child grow and develop. Don't forget to schedule a doctor's visit. Stay positive!