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What’s in a Label?

“Does my child have a developmental preference or a problem?”

what-in-a-labelOften when there are concerns with some aspect of a child’s development, a parent also has concerns about a “label” that may be given to their child by medical or developmental professionals. If a child’s development is delayed this could mean that he/she is simply a “late bloomer”, or it could reflect a longer-term or more involved difficulty.

“Wait-and-See” versus “Intervention”

If a given child is simply a “late bloomer” then “wait-and-see” may indeed be a valid approach.  If, however, development continues to lag over time, intervention services could be warranted and beneficial.  The “tricky” thing about all of this is that none of us can predict the future, and we usually can’t say for perfect certainty exactly WHY a given child is developmentally behind.  Additionally, there is no “exact” time to proceed with formal intervention.  Some family members and friends may encourage a “wait-and-see” approach, while others may “push” earlier.

“What’s a parent to do?”

There are a few important things to remember:

Some parents draw conclusions about their children based on their own pattern of development (e.g., “It’s not necessary to do anything to boost my son’s language development, because I didn’t begin speaking until I was 3 and look at me, I turned out fine!”).  This thinking is possibly flawed.  While it may indeed be true that one particular does NOT require intervention, another child may indeed require (or at least benefit from) formal intervention.

Two main points should not be lost:

  1. The brain is highly receptive to learning in the early years (especially from birth through five), so, generally speaking, the earlier the intervention, the more effective.
  2. Parents should try to balance any concern they may have over a “label”, with the possible benefits that intervention services may have for their child’s development, confidence and happiness.


  • Curious George: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Dennis the Menace: Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Garfield: Antisocial Personality Disorder w/Depression
  • Charlie Brown: Generalized Anxiety Disorder