You’re frustrated. Other kids the same age as your child are talking so much more than yours is, but your pediatrician is saying there is nothing to worry about. People are saying the developmental milestones changed recently too. What does all this mean, and what should you do next?
Let’s dive right in and answer these questions!
The Pediatrician Says Don’t Worry
There’s a lot of talk about milestones when you have little ones, but one of the most frequently asked questions I hear is “Why don’t the milestones SLPs talk about match what my child’s pediatrician says?”
This is largely due to the difference in milestones vs averages.
Milestones vs Averages
Milestones are the level that 90% of children that age have achieved for a particular skill.
Averages are the midpoint. That is where 50% of children are. So, up until now, the pediatric development guidelines were based on the AVERAGE, even though they were worded as “milestones”. Confusing, right?!
SLPs and pediatricians have looked at this data differently.
A pediatrician has been viewing the standard for referrals at the 50th percentile range while SLPs often consider children delayed if they are below the true milestone (90th percentile).
While pediatricians are responsible for knowing about a vast range of information for ages birth through 21, SLPs hone in on much more specific skills.
>>>So, the data my pediatrician has is wrong?
No, but it wasn’t interpreted in the clearest way. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated the information.
Changes in Developmental Milestones
The AAP updated the childhood developmental milestones in 2022. Before this, these guidelines had not been updated since they were first released in 2004– that’s almost 20 years!
When created, the guidelines were based on the abilities of the 50th percentile of children. Now, they reflect the skills of children in the 75th percentile.This is good news! –This change makes it easier for practitioners to better identify children who are developmentally delayed!
Review this comprehensive milestone checklist created by the CDC that corresponds with your child’s age (from 2 months through 5 years old) to check in on your child’s skill level.
So, the difference in “milestones” and “averages” and the updated milestones list might leave you realizing that your child is much further behind than you thought. Yikes!
What are the Next Steps?
There are a few steps you can take next:
Talk to Your Pediatrician Again
Don’t be afraid to advocate for your child if it doesn’t seem like your pediatrician is on board.
You know your child best and now have better data to support your intuition. Be confident and bring this to your pediatrician’s attention if needed.
Take a Webinar
If your child is not meeting milestones for his age, sign up for one of my highly reviewed webinars!
- The Foundational 5 focuses on pre-talking skills
- How to Teach Talking covers all the techniques you need to get those first words.
Talk to an SLP Near You
You can also consider contacting your local early intervention program or scheduling a speech language evaluation privately.
Advocate, advocate, advocate… and keep learning!
If you’re an SLP and parent of a young child, use your child’s well visits as a mini-education session. Mention the changes to the guidelines and see if you can clarify any questions your pediatrician might have.
Check out my Early Language Masterclass! This two-hour webinar will leave you with practical therapy tips for working with language-delayed toddlers and resources to share with parents.
Use these Early Language Parent Handouts to educate caregivers.
Data and its interpretation is always changing, so we just keep learning and growing together. Remember, you’re already equipped to help your child!
You might also be interested in reading:
Click here for a FREE handout on talking to caregivers. These quick tips will boost your confidence immediately!