Consider the Numbers
On a day-to-day basis, I have the honor of working with families and witnessing an amazing phenomenon firsthand—parental love. All parents marvel at the miracle blossoming in front of them: "Do you see the way he holds that crayon?" "He knows all his letters!" "He got his first tooth before any of his cousins!"
But if you're like me, you've probably read too many parenting books. What if all your child's milestones are not on target? What if part of your child's development is behind the standard? When should you worry?
The average 2-year-old can put two words together ("Mommy home") and is starting to use pronouns such as "you" and "me." Half of a typical two-year-old's utterances should be intelligible, and he should have an uncountable vocabulary. On the physical development front, a typically developing two-year-old can jump with two feet together. He can also stand on his tippy toes.
The percentage of preschool children who have some language delay, autistic spectrum disorder, or physical delay is 18 percent when added all together. However, language delay is more common than physical limitations. For example, it' s very unusual to have a 2-year-old who is not walking. And this child would have been identified much earlier by the pediatrician. And some children who have delayed expressive language, are normal in receptive language. In other words, they follow simple commands and seem to understand what you are saying.
Early intervention programs like Head Start have had a significant impact, however, it is mainly in children who come from homes where they are not exposed to language or other stimulation because of poorer socio-economic conditions. Early intervention for children with developmental delay are different and have variable success rates long term. What is known is that the earlier you enroll a child in early intervention who has language delay, autistic spectrum disorder, or physical or fine motor delays, the better the outcome.