Sometimes, it starts with a gut feeling. Then, you might start to take more notice of their actions when they are playing or interacting with others. Or perhaps, you might find yourself comparing the development or behaviour of your child with other children who are about the same age.

Other than a formal assessment, there is no specific checklist for you to be 100% sure that your child has special needs. However, there are a few signs that might be helpful for you to make the decision to get a diagnosis for your child.

1. Observation & Comparison
As mentioned in the introduction, it could be something as simple as comparing your child to other children of the same age and noticing that something is not the same. The differences might be enough for you to arrange for a psychological assessment to check if your suspicions are true. However, if you are still doubtful, the following signs might be more helpful.

2. Communication
All children develop at different rates. However, if there is a significant lack of development or difference in development compared to children around the same age, your suspicions might be true. Some signs with regards to communication could be:

  • Being unusually quiet
  • Does not communicate wants or needs by gesturing or verbalising
    (e.g., does not know how to communicate they’re hungry, or when they need the toilet)
  • Does not respond when being asked a simple question by age 2
    (e.g., “Do you want to eat this?”).
  • Does not respond to basic questions like “what is your name?” and “how old are you” at age 3 to 4 and onwards.

3. Socialising

  • Being unresponsive to games like peek-a-boo or waving goodbye between the ages of 1 and 2.
  • At age 3 and onwards, does not look for other children to play with, or will play alone even if there are other children around (i.e., simply not interested in socialising).
  • At age 5 and onwards, does not know how to wait patiently for their turn when playing games with others like board games.

4. Joint Attention

    • Difficulty following people or objects with eyes
    • Have trouble making eye contact or focusing when someone is talking to them
    • Difficulty in maintaining eye contact/focus when someone is showing something to the child and talking about it.
    • Have difficulty finding objects with minimal distractions (e.g., finding a circle amongst other shapes placed on a single-coloured table)

5. Hearing
-Sensitive to noise
-Might experience more earaches compared to others
-Does not look to source of noise like people talking or music playing from the phone when 6 months old and onwards
-Might not respond when his/her name is called

6. Fine motor skills
– Have trouble picking up objects
– Have trouble in grasping object when placed in their hand
– Difficulty grasping a pencil or crayon
– Have trouble learning how to button, tie shoelaces or zip

7. Learning
– Difficulty in learning to read
– Difficulty in learning new concepts like colours, shapes, numbers and the alphabet.

Knowing that your child might have special needs can feel extremely overwhelming and heart-wrenching. You might also feel lost and not know what to do next. For a start, if you would like to read up more about what you should do next before contacting a professional, here is an article that you can read:

Also, here is an article to know about the importance of early intervention:

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