I wholeheartedly agree with the author of this article. While a “normal” level of concern about a child that is not reaching developmental milestones on target is natural, our current society does seem to be overly aggressive in the diagnosis and treatment of reasons for any slight developmental delays.
I see many parents who are “bullied” into services of a physical/developmental therapist for their little ones for issues that, personally, seem to be “wait and see” issues. If a child is having regular exams by a doctor (who cannot be a specialist in all issues, granted), then I would see nothing wrong with waiting an extra six months or so before assessment if no obvious issue presents itself straight away. For example, one mother I know has a child who has a diagnosed hearing deficit. The exact cause has not been determined, yet, other than it is an actual physical defect of the ear. The baby has had hearing aids in place from a very young age, and is regularly seen by a therapist to make certain speech and hearing continue to progress at an acceptable rate (they are). This same child pulled up normally and would “cruise” right on cue, but time continued to pass and the child was not progressing to unassisted walking. In my mind, this automatically causes me to think that it’s a problem with balance/inner ear, as the child already has a diagnosed ear problem that is being treated. However, the parents are pressured into new therapists and treatments that have nothing to do with the physical defects of the child’s ear. I’ve also seen many children who are being screened for autism as soon as they are old enough to fall into any type of diagnostic table – not because of problems with daycare or because the parent is having any type of unresolvable behavioral concern, but simply because the child was a mere month or two behind the “norm” in meeting a developmental milestone, when the same child may have even been ahead in meeting other milestones.
On the other hand, I have seen the sad outcomes that can come out of under-diagnosis of issues. A boy who my brother went to school with was severely behind the class in development, even when they all began pre-K at age 4. In pre-K, he had only the most basic vocabulary skills (probably 10 words, definitely even below the range that would be expected for a 2-year-old). The child likely had some other delays, but the primary issue retarding his development was a hearing loss that went undiagnosed until he was brought in for pre-kindergarten enrollment. His low-income parents just thought they had a “quiet, easy-going” child. He was so far behind the class that he was pushed through on a special-education track, and definitely was not at senior high school level when they graduated. To further complicate matters, he was involved in a terrible accident where his four-wheeler was struck by a truck in his teenage years, which added further damage; he will NEVER be able to lead a normal life. He was such a sweet little boy that I cannot help but wonder, if he were born only 10-15 years later as the new fears are taking over, how different his life might have been with earlier intervention.
All to say, that I think the article makes a point. There are times when early intervention can assist a child, and it is great to have an awareness that something is not “normal” and to explore options to help boost a child’s development. But that is no reason for a paralyzing fear that because bad things happen to some children, that it is inevitable that your child will suffer from a disability.