A Bit of Extra Special Love and Care
Every child develops at a different rate and in a different way. But some kids are born with disabilities and other special needs that are more serious and will affect how they grow and develop.
More than 10 percent of kids under 5 in California have a disability or special need that may impact their ability to play and learn. If you think your child might have a disability, health, or mental health condition, you should seek a doctor's help right away. Early intervention services are most effective if started before a child turns 3.
Some things place a child at greater risk for special needs. Here are some risk factors to be aware of:
Children with special needs are different in the way they develop and act. As your newborn grows, watch for early signs that your child may need extra help.
One in 110 kids in the U.S. has autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a developmental disability that occurs when the brain has trouble functioning properly. It affects a child's ability to speak, learn, and communicate with others. Doctors don't know exactly what causes it, but potential signs of autism can appear by 18 months.
Right now, there's no cure for autism, but it is treatable. Common treatments include speech and physical therapy, special diets, and treatments focused on improving relationships.
Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention services performed while a child's brain is still developing can significantly improve a child's ability to learn and communicate by the time they start kindergarten.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you notice anything about your child's behavior that doesn't seem right, you should have him or her checked by a health care provider.
When your child is diagnosed with a disability or special need, it's important to get support. You're not alone, even if it feels that way sometimes.
Extra Tip: Take time out for yourself. As much as you want to give your child all your attention, if you're tired and frustrated, you won't be able to put your best foot forward as a parent.