How tracking a child’s developmental milestones can increase their potential for a successful life was explained by UMass Medical School autism advocate Elaine Gabovitch, MPA, in a Boston Parents Paper edition focused on raising children with special needs.
“There is much parents can do to learn how to track milestones, to promote healthy development in their children and to get help if there’s a concern,” wrote Gabovitch, who described her experience navigating those milestones with a son later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Gabovitch is an alumna and family faculty of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program at the Eunice Kennedy ShriverCenter, part of UMass Medical School's Commonwealth Medicine division. Gabovitch also holds an appointment as an instructor in the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health.
Parents can assess their child’s development by using many free resources prepared by child development experts, Gabovitch wrote. She shared a detailed listing that includes milestone checklists and articles available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs, Act Early” campaign website. Gabovitch is the Massachusetts ambassador and state team leader of Act Early, which promotes early diagnosis and treatment of ASDs and other developmental disabilities.
Gabovitch is passionate about tracking milestones because she knows first-hand that early identification of developmental struggles can have a positive impact on all children, not just those with an ASD diagnosis. Some children without ASDs will experience developmental hurdles, such as difficulties with speech sounds, which can be improved with extra help from teachers and parents.
“Celebrating your child’s developmental milestones is the key to success,” Gabovitch wrote. “By tracking milestones, you can improve a child’s outcome and stay ahead of concerns.”
Parents who have access to developmental tracking tools and comprehensive milestone information can check if their child is on the right path, learn how to reinforce emerging skills, and determine when to seek help, Gabovitch explained. Catching delays early can have a profoundly positive impact on the lives of children with ASDs, and have been proven to result in better long-term outcomes.