42 answers

Would You Tell a Friend That Their Child Seems Delayed?

Hi Mamas! I am a health professional with a four year old daughter. A friend has a 20 month old daughter who seems developmentally delayed. My friend doesn't seem to notice. I know that this would be hard for her to hear, but if there is something really wrong, early intervention would be beneficial for her child. On the other hand, other friends say that they would not say anything for fear of offending the mother.
Would you or have you expressed such concerns to a friend about her child? If so, what was the outcome and how did you approach the topic? Thanks.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all who responded to my question. After receiving over 40 responses, there were slightly more of you who said that I should not say anything vs ones who said that I should. I found that the responders who made suggestions as to how to approach the issue were the most helpful. I did bring it up to the mother by asking about the baby's "milestones" and asking about whether they were happy with their pediatrician. She took it very well and I can see that I have opened a window for more conversations so that she knows that I am just concerned about her and her baby.
I believe that we should all be concerned about the well-being of children, even those who are not our own. It takes a village to raise a child, right?
It would be devastating for me if I didn't say anything and then years later, I would come to find out that I could have helped this child by suggesting early intervention. I think it would be irresponsible of my part as a human being and as a friend to let it go for fear of upsetting the mother. What kind of person would I be if I let that happen?! We all should ask ourselves that question once in a while -What can I do to help a child today?
Thank you all for your opinions.

Featured Answers

It really depends on the relationship I had with my friend whether I would say something or not. I however have to respectfully disagree that just because she is taking her child to well visits that the pediatrician would be able to pick up developmental delays especially if the mother seems unconcerned or unaware of possible delays.

3 moms found this helpful

Yes, and I have. I have a friend whose middle son is 4. He is nonverbal and the only way he commuicates is by punching, throwing things and grunting. When he was allmost 3 I asked her what her dr said about him not speaking yet...She said she just didnt think he was ready to speak and he would eventually. I must not have been the only person that asked her about it. Right before his 4th bday she finally asked her dr about it and noe he is in speech therapy. It wasnt easy to ask her about it ( noone wants to be the person to point out that there could be something wrong with someone elses child) but I had a feeling that she was hoping there was nothing wrong and that if she pretented she didnt notice it he would be just fine.

3 moms found this helpful

If she is concerned she will probably bring it up.
If she is in denial she will not bring it up and wouldn't listen if you bring it up.
If she is inexperienced, her first child, she's not around kids much, etc. then Casually, with neutral words, ask questions about milestones, Has she started using a cup? Oh I remember my daughter was drinking from a cup. Or what does the doctor say about her learning to walk? Is he concerned?

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I respectfully disagree with the moms who suggest leaving it to the pediatrician.

I trotted my son in and out of the highly qualified, board certified ped's office for 9-10 years before we ever got any clue or traction on the real issues that plagued him, and it certainly wasn't because my ped brought it up. They just kept plying us with antibiotics and telling us he would probably grow out of his problems. It took pulling my son out of school, homeschooling, working with three different specialists (not covered by insurance) before we saw ANY progress. And it took another couple of years of fine-tuning to get him where he is today, at 14 - reading at a high school level, a black belt in karate, 6 feet tall, and the picture of health. I CRY with relief sometimes.

But I also cry with frustration and regret, too, wishing that I knew - when he was 2, 3,4,5 - what I learned when he was 9-10 years old. The window of time when they are little is SO important imho.

Therefore, depending on my relationship with this friend, I would try to bring it up in as delicate a way as possible. If she seemed receptive, I would try to offer ideas and resources. If not, I would back off and wait patiently for the time that she is ready (and it may come). If not, at least I knew that I tried. And I would always just try to be a good, non-judgmental friend.

And if I was a health care professional (which I'm not), I would be even more careful. I would not give her advice, but I would just point to my own experiences and give her a "heads-up" on the resources out there.

This is a tricky situation and I applaud you for caring about your friend and her child. Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful

Yes, because I'd want a friend to tell me. If you're concerned about how she'll take it, how about sharing a milestone chart so she can "score"her own child? 'Jenny, I came across the milestone chart I used with little Susy when she was your daughters age and figured I'd pass it along. If you have any questions give me a call and I can help or refer you to a colleague.' That sort of thing.

5 moms found this helpful

yes, & here's my reason why:

I know a Mom who's a pediatric psychologist. She specifically deals with issues such as ADD/ADHD, autism, & many others. Her patients are usually between toddler to teen years. She's been doing this for years now.

Despite all of this in her background, she was devastated when she learned that she missed the issues in her 2nd child. He was diagnosed with mid-level autism & several other issues to boot. It was so apparent & identifiable that her mother's intervention brought it to her attention. & she was completely devastated that she had missed this in her own child.

Since then, whenever I notice something, I find a way to casually mention or bring up the concerns - after I make sure that I'm not jumping to conclusions. & I want to be clear....sometimes its months before I say anything! I make danged sure that I'm really worried/concerned before opening my big mouth!

The next part of the equation is: I do not assume that I'm qualifed to diagnose. I simply draw attention to the action (or lack of) which is concerning me. Hope this helps.....

5 moms found this helpful

Is it her first child? My son was developmentally delayed and I was a bit naive about the milestones he should be hitting. At his 9 month well baby check he fell off the growth chart as was referred for services. I'm not sure how I would have handled it if my friend has said something to me. It's hard to hear that your baby isn't developing properly when we mommies tend to compare all the time. I had a friend who's 5 year old needed speech therapy as you couldn't understand anything he said. I didn't say anything to her about it and it was a double edged sword. I thought she wouldn't appreciate it, but yet I think he missed out on some services b/c nobody said anything. He didn't get any assistance until Kindergarten when the school noticed, so he missed out on early intervention. My son is doing SO well and I attribute early intervention to his success.

So, perhaps if there is a way that it comes up you could share your concerns, but it would be hard to be like, "Oh by the way...." it could come off the wrong way. If she brings it up it would be easier to say what you are thinking. many have said, if she is getting the kiddo into well baby checks in a timely manner one would hope her pediatrician would notice any delays.

Good luck! It sounds like you are a great friend who only wants to help and are thinking of being sensitive as well. :-)

I like Angela S's answer as well!!! Lots to think about!

4 moms found this helpful

Does the mother take the child to the ped for regular well baby checks? If so, then the doctor would be aware of the child being developmentally delayed. I wouldn't say anything.

4 moms found this helpful

Yes, and I have. I have a friend whose middle son is 4. He is nonverbal and the only way he commuicates is by punching, throwing things and grunting. When he was allmost 3 I asked her what her dr said about him not speaking yet...She said she just didnt think he was ready to speak and he would eventually. I must not have been the only person that asked her about it. Right before his 4th bday she finally asked her dr about it and noe he is in speech therapy. It wasnt easy to ask her about it ( noone wants to be the person to point out that there could be something wrong with someone elses child) but I had a feeling that she was hoping there was nothing wrong and that if she pretented she didnt notice it he would be just fine.

3 moms found this helpful

To a friend? No. I am a child psychologist and can spot a delayed child from 50 paces, but unless I'm in my office with my "shingle out", I don't bring it up. I have several very close friends who have specifically asked me for my professional opinion or have asked me to say something if I notice something. Because they have asked, I will share my thoughts.

I have "said something" TWO TIMES in my entire career outside of my professional role, both to close family members. My niece's language was so significantly delayed that I could not let it go any longer. When I mentioned it to my in-laws her mother said that she had been concerned to and was going to ask me about it that afternoon anyway. The other was when I noticed really serious neurological red flags in my nephew. I mentioned it to my in-laws and they did not act on it. He started experiencing seizures within two months.

If she brings it up... mention that she may want to ask her doctor about it at their next visit. If she doesn't, then you can't really create an opening without alienating your friend.

3 moms found this helpful

It really depends on the relationship I had with my friend whether I would say something or not. I however have to respectfully disagree that just because she is taking her child to well visits that the pediatrician would be able to pick up developmental delays especially if the mother seems unconcerned or unaware of possible delays.

3 moms found this helpful

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