Doctors say motor skills should be tested in well-child visits

When you take your baby or young child to the doctor in St. Louis, the pediatrician performs developmental screenings to ensure your child is developing properly. Historically, the screenings have focused on social development and language, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says well-child visits should be more thorough. 

The pediatricians say that in addition to language and social skills, babies should be evaluated for motor skills, including fine motor skills, during their visits at 9, 18 and 30 months to detect any potential developmental disability. Since all doctors may not have incorporated this testing into their well-child visit routines, it might be worth asking your pediatrician to perform some extra tests. 

Testing motor skills usually involves watching the child perform activities that are common for his or her age group. This can mean walking, crawling, climbing a flight of stairs or rolling over, depending on the child's age. Fine motor skills can be tested by watching a child draw or simply observing how he or she picks up and holds onto objects. Fortunately, these are all things you can observe as a parent as well, so if you notice something that seems concerning, bring it up to your doctor. 

By testing motor function early on, a child can get the assistance he or she may need to correct a problem or manage a disability. If a disability persists past the infant or toddler stage, most doctors would recommend that parents place their child in a school that has a good special education program to ensure they benefit from teachers who understand developmental disabilities and the needs of the students who live with them. If your child's disability requires treatment or medication that you are having trouble affording, it may be worth looking into Childhood Disability Benefits. 

Source: Disability Scoop, "More Thorough Developmental Screenings Recommended," Shaun Heasley, June 5, 2013

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