Odds are you’ve heard the term “pandemic baby.” But what exactly does that mean? Could your child be considered a “pandemic baby?” Should you be concerned? The short answer is maybe. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how isolation has impacted early childhood development.
According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), between birth and 5 years of age is a critical period for communication development. This includes speech, language, play and social skills. During this time, parents and pediatricians are tasked with monitoring achievement of developmental milestones and identifying when intervention is warranted. The pandemic forced us all to change our routines. We met with family, friends and health care providers virtually. We spent significant amounts of time inside our own homes or physically distant from other people. Adults and children alike missed out on opportunities to interact with and learn from others.
Parents and caregivers are rightly worried about the little ones in their lives. Some common concerns include:
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has begun examining the developmental impacts through the Act Early Response to COVID-19 project (Act Early/COVID-19), which is a federal, nationwide initiative to support families with young children and early childhood systems with early identification of developmental delays and disabilities. Initial findings show that a vast majority of early intervention programs transitioned to hybrid or virtual services. Additionally, early identification and intervention services have decreased more than 50% since the beginning of the pandemic.
As a parent, you can and should be familiar with developmental milestones and when they are likely to be achieved by most children. The CDC offers an online Milestone Tracker app (www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html). Additionally, ASHA provides a collective resource of norms and milestones for speech and language development (www.asha.org/slp/schools/prof-consult/norms). If after reviewing this information you have any concerns about your child’s development, you should act immediately. Consider speaking to your pediatrician or reaching out to Anne Arundel County Public Schools, which offers family-centered assessment and intervention services (www.aacps.org/Page/1396).
The COVID pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. As we emerge from isolation, it is essential to be mindful of how our children may have been affected. Remember: birth to 5 years is a critical developmental period for all areas, including speech, language, play, emotional, social, and motor skills. Know the signs of developmental delays. Seek support. Don’t wait and see. Now is the time.
The team at Budding Voices is available to answer any questions you may have about your child’s development. Call 844-410-2878 or visit www.buddingvoices.com for more information.