By Dr. Mary Ann Moya-Prudencio
Pediatric Consultant Clinica Manila
Being a first time parent is usually met with mixed emotions. We are excited in anticipating the birth of our child and scared as well asking ourselves if we are equipped to raise them to be happy, healthy, successful and productive members of society. As soon as our children are born, most parents experience an overwhelming feeling of unconditional love and would do anything in their power to love and care for them.
We remember their first smile, the first time they walk, and the first time they call us “mama” or “papa”. However, what if by one year of age they still could not sit up and they are either stiff or floppy? What if by one and a half years of age they don’t turn when you call their name, they may look at you but their eye contact is fleeting, they don’t point to what they want and would prefer to pull your hand to show you what they wanted?
Instead of calling you “mama or papa” they speak unintelligible words or words they heard from You Tube. If you compare your child with other children his age it seems that his behavior is different. He walks on his toes, flap his arms when excited and he doesn’t follow any instructions like “give me” or “get that” and it seems that it is hard to teach him as he prefers to do what he wanted. His play is solitary and he doesn’t show interest in playing with other children and prefers to line toys, spin around or spin different objects like wheels or covers of pots and pans. If you see any of these behavior in your child what do you do as a parent?
Identifying these delays early (before 3-5 years of age) is important because studies show that early intervention of delays can make a big difference in improving a child’s development. Consultation with specialists like a developmental pediatrician will give you an idea on what your child’s condition is and counsel you on what to do, what to expect and where to go for intervention. It is important that your child’s progress be monitored to see if he has improved, stayed the same or regressed. It was interesting to see patients in a mall-based clinic like Clinica Manila since most of my patients are not that afraid to go to the doctor because they are going to a mall. If they can talk, it is interesting to hear them bargain to their parents on where to eat and what to do in Timezone after the consultation.
Unfortunately, the wait to see a specialist is long and parents may need to wait for several months for their child to be seen. So what can parents do at home while waiting for their scheduled appointment? First thing you have to do is stop the use of gadgets. Don’t let them watch television for a long time. The recommendation of the Pediatric Societies are that children SHOULD NOT be exposed to electronic media if they are less than 2 years old and not more than 1 hour a day of exposure if they are more than 2 years old. Play with them, talk to them and read to them. Let them run around and play outside with other children. If they wanted something give them a choice and say the name of the object that he wanted.
Your child has only one brain and if wired properly at an early age there is no limit to what he can do in the future. So, when you feel a need to assess your child, dropping by at Clinica Manila SM Megamall for about an hour of consult may be one of your options while incorporating other errands in your list.