3 year old diagnosed with developmental delay. What should I expect?

Corie - posted on 07/26/2016 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Hi moms. I apologize in advance if this sounds crazy...I feel crazy and my thoughts are everywhere. I'm new to circle of moms and am looking for support.

My 3 year old son has recently been diagnosed with developmental delay in the areas of Social skills and language. He was a typical baby, very happy, met all of his milestones (some early) but around 20 months of age my husband and I noticed that he wasn't speaking as much as he previously was and wasn't playing with the kids in his daycare. We discussed our concerns with his ped. and was told that he seemed fine but referred us for testing to be sure. He was given the STAT screening and did very well. The specialist did however refer us for speech services. He has been receiving services since October and has made great improvement but still has a little ways to go. The agency that we are using is state funded and when a child turns 3 they are referred to their location school district. After discussing our concerns the school district performed the ADOS screening for autism but once again didn't feel that he met enough of the markers but rather gave him a diagnosis of developmental delay. What does this mean? Will he catch up? What kind of life will he have as an adult?

He is very smart. His memory is amazing and his daycare teachers agree and state that he is right on point with his peers as far as learning is concerned but when around other children, there is a clear difference in his language (which seems to be around a 2 year olds language) and his social skills. I'm so confused and am honestly hurt. I felt that I did everything right. My pregnancy was very hard but I followed all of the doctors suggestions. I feel as if someone has taken away all the dreams I had for him and it isn't fair! I cry often but hide it most times because I don't want people to think that I am disappointed in him or that I'm a bad mom. I just don't understand.

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Ev - posted on 07/26/2016

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What developmental delay does he have then if he had a different testing done in the school district you live in?

Usually when a child has a developmental delay it is sometimes as simple as not meeting some milestones within a determined time frame like several months behind to sever delays of other types. I worked as a preschool teacher of special needs kids and saw all sorts of these developmental delays. Most of the kids were still pretty much typical but for those few things they needed to get some therapy with. They were tested regularly and once they achieved their goals they were tested and if found met goals transitioned out of programs.

First, boys more often than not do not communicate by speech as well as girls until they are older. He could be fine. My son babbled a lot and said few words until he was 3.5 years of age and could be understood. Most kids between 2 and 3 are using 2-3 word sentences and then it grows from there. Socially, kids this age are still all about me and are still learning to play with others. He might be normally a loner which is not a bad thing at all. But do encourage him to join others as much as possible.

I do not think your son from what you described has any worries for growing up to adult hood. I think you are a bit more concerned than you should be. Not all kids are on the same level of learning and will be a bit behind or a bit ahead of others. If the pros think he is on level with his peers for the most part, then he is fine. He will catch up and he will learn. My son was way behind socially, had a learning delay or disability, and had resource classes and he is now a functioning adult with paying his bills, holding jobs and so forth.

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Corie - posted on 07/28/2016

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Thank you Sarah. This is definitely a hard path for me. Some days I'm fine but others I'm a complete mess! We went through the is it mild autism for a year and now that we have a "final" answer I'm always scared that someone else will bring it back up and we'll have to start over again. I feel as if I'm always on edge.

Sarah - posted on 07/28/2016

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I agree with Ev. I do however acknowledge your fear and feelings of "what may come" or "what may not come" for your child. I have four kids and one had a very similar issue as your child, slow talker, loner and needed speech therapy. He is a perfectly typical 14yo now. It is easy as a mother of older kids for me to tell you not to worry and you can even tell yourself that too, but that doesn't make it easy to stop the worry about the future. Your concern is perfectly normal and that is what this site is all about. Come here and post and vent and ask questions. At least you can get it off your chest, and sometimes that helps a lot!
When any of us conceives a child; we hold a dream for that child and have hopes and goals for him or her. To be told that the path to those goals may not be a straight, smooth and easy road, is hard. I look at my kids and I wonder how I was ever so lucky to have rolled the dice and have four healthy kids! I am very thankful but the reality is that could all change in an instant. You are doing what you need to do for your child and in all likelihood he will achieve the goals set and be just fine. To worry is normal, but it takes away from the joy of parenting. I too, work in the school setting and I see kids my own kids ages with illness, disabilities, drug problems, pregnancy, ASD, BD and all sorts of problems and I do worry for my own kids. The bottom line is you get what you get and you deal with life as it comes. Hang in there!

Ev - posted on 07/26/2016

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i really do not think you need to worry for his future. You seem to be ready to pounce on getting things taken care of. And that is the most important thing here. Just enjoy him. Work with him. Encourage him. Do not focus on any of his issues to the point that it inhibits his being able to move forward or it enables his behaviors. I never used my son's Autsim disorder to get things or explain how he behaved. ON the other hand, his own dad and current step mom would use it to explain away his actions, behavior, and other things. Most times than not, it was normal behavior for his age at the time and they just could not see that. I think they were looking for a way to deal with him that was easy.

Corie - posted on 07/26/2016

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I've been told that often and I try but it's hard. From the day I found out that j was pregnant, I built this image in my mind and it's hard to let that go. Don't get me wrong, my son is an awesome kid; he puts a smile on my face everyday but I worry for his future and how it will be. Thank you so much for allowing me to vent but at the same time providing prospective.

Ev - posted on 07/26/2016

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You have to learn to look past that though in a way. It will always be around you but you can not let it get to you. I can understand. My son was diagnosed with Autsim spectrum disorder at age 11--high functioning. I had to explain it to him and I told him that he just saw the world in a different way to the average ones. We did not focus on it and use it as a crutch to explain away his behaviors or to gain things. I did not treat him any different than his sister as far as discipline with the exception I might have had to change how I handled things and the battles I would fight. That said he has turned out to be a fine young man. If you let yourself focus on it too much you will miss on some really good things as he grows.

Corie - posted on 07/26/2016

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Thank you for your response.

Initially we noticed that his speech slowed down, he had echolalia, and showed no interest in other children. Now with early intervention and speech (the agency we were with provided both automatically) his language has gotten better and he now will play with other children (sometimes). The echolalia is almost gone completely. The psychologist who performed his last screening predicts that he will be mainstream by kindergarten.

The big issue (I feel) is that I work in schools and see students with a range of issues. With that knowledge and having it in my face daily, I do tend to worry a lot.

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