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Early Warning Signs That Your Child Has Special Education Needs

by on 18/09/2018 10112

Last updated 5th May 2020


It is universal that when you become a parent, you want to raise happy, healthy children. You look forward to seeing them achieve their developmental milestones and are prepared to devote eons of time to mould them into capable, well-rounded members of the society. Throughout the journey, it is important to understand children’s developmental milestones and keep a watchful eye on their growth. A milestone checklist or a milestone tracker app can make it easier to keep track and spot any potential developmental delays. While it is true that each child develops at their own unique pace, however, when your child plays, learns, acts, moves and speaks differently on a regular basis compared to most of his or her peers, that is normally a red flag. Sometimes it may just be pure parental instinct that tells you something is amiss. If you do spot the following indications persistently, heed these early warning signs for a possible developmental problem and need for special therapy or education.



Learn the General Signs and Symptoms Early  

If your child is persistently experiencing difficulties SEEING:
  • Rubs his/her eyes or says that they hurt;
  • S/he cannot spot and pick up small objects;
  • Tilts his/her head or holds it in an awkward position when trying to look at something.


If your child is persistently experiencing difficulties THINKING:
  • Does not respond to his/her name by age 1;
  • S/he cannot point out where his/her body parts are by 2 years old;
  • Does not understand simple words and stories by 3 years old;
  • S/he cannot answer simple questions by 4 years old.


If your child is persistently experiencing difficulties TALKING:
  • S/he cannot say a few single words by 2 years old;
  • After age 2 to 3 years, s/he cannot form three- or four-word sentences and cannot be understood by others outside the family;
  • S/he cannot communicate needs, such as letting you know s/he is hungry or hurt.


If your child is persistently experiencing difficulties HEARING:
  • S/he talks very softly or loudly;
  • Does not turn to face the source of sounds;
  • Uses the same ear to listen to the source of sounds;
  • Does not respond to his/her name when being called from a distance.


If your child is persistently experiencing difficulties MOVING:
  • S/he cannot sit up on his/her own by age 1;
  • S/he cannot walk on his/her own by 2 years old;
  • Growing past 2 years, s/he cannot walk up and down steps, balance on one foot for a short time or carry out actions like throwing a ball.


If your child is persistently experiencing difficulties PLAYING:
  • By age 1, s/he cannot wave bye or does not play simple interactive games like peek-a-boo and clapping hands;
  • Past the age of 2 to 3, he/she does not enjoy playing toys or imitate some of your actions around the house such as sweeping the floor;
  • By around age 4, s/he is disconnected or does not enjoy playing games with others such as in chase games and hide-and-seek.



Act Early

If you are worried that your child’s behaviour, development or learning progress may be a cause for concern, the essential beginning step is to ask your child’s doctor for a developmental screening in speech, language, fine and gross motor, hearing, and vision. When the developmental screening indicates the need for further assessment, ask your child’s doctor for a referral to a specialist, which could include a developmental pediatrician, or child psychologist or neurologist, to get a full, individual evaluation to be conducted. As identifying children with special needs is a very tricky task and can be confused with a lot of other issues, it is best to seek input from a specialist.


For an in-depth consultation with a specialist, please visit your nearest multidisciplinary intervention centre here or here. They offer holistic intervention strategies to support children with special needs and early intervention is key!