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Early intervention

BY: Josephine Ohenewa Bampoe
Picture credit: Shutterstock
Picture credit: Shutterstock

Most families welcome a baby with great joy. Often, the parents have plans in place for the new baby in terms of how to bring he or she up.

Most women like to even think about the outfits and hairstyles for their babies.

With all these expectations, if the child does not reach all their milestones as expected, there can be so much disappointment. Babies are expected to reach certain developmental milestones as they grow.

These include neck control, sitting, crawling, standing alone, walking, talking and more. At the Child Welfare Clinic (mostly referred to as ‘Weighing’ in Ghana), the public health nurses often check some of these milestones to find out how your child is developing. Your child’s paediatrician is also likely to check some of these.

What happens if you are concerned about your child’s development in general? It’s often helpful to discuss with your child’s paediatrician who will refer your child to the appropriate specialist. Do not ‘wait and see’.

The earlier a difficulty is identified, the better it is for the child to receive early intervention to help mitigate the issues where possible. The impact of delayed development is huge and has serious consequences for a child’s development in terms of education, relationships, emotional development and quality of life.

When to seek early intervention

It is often helpful if you document your child’s milestones. This means noting down the age at which your child reaches each milestone such as neck control, sitting, crawling among others.

That way, it is easier to tell if they are following the typical developmental trajectories or not. In terms of speech, language and communication, it is helpful to note down milestones such as babbling, turning to their name, following simple instructions (such as ‘come’, stop’, ‘’), pointing and their first words.

Speech and language delays are common among pre-school children. Immediately you become concerned about their development even before 18 months, it is always advisable to see a speech and language therapist.

Sometimes, other factors may result in the delay you are seeing and all you may be required to do is to provide the child with a language rich environment.

At other times, this may not be so and there may be some other underlying reasons and so your child may need further intervention. Trust your gut and seek help!

According to research, maternal concern strongly indicates that there is childhood speech and language difficulties.

Early intervention

Early intervention refers to support provided to children and their families before they turn three. In the context of speech and language therapy, it applies to the intervention provided to a child to help their development of communication skills such as understanding, gesturing, pointing, talking. The goal for each child varies, depending on their needs.

Benefits

According to research, one of the best ways to reduce the impact of a child’s speech and language difficulties over a long-term is through early intervention. It is believed that during the first three years of a child’s life, their brain is flexible to change – neuroplasticity. This means that the likelihood of the child making huge progress in their speech and language development during their first three years is great. Early identification and intervention increase the child’s chances of making progress in all areas of their lives.

If your child’s paediatrician is not concerned about your child’s speech and language development but you are, see a speech and language therapist to rule out any concerns. You know your child best. Trust your instincts!

The writer is Speech & Language Therapist/Clinical Tutor, University of Ghana. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.