Parent reporting of their child's motor skills and collaboration with a health care professional is a key factor in identifying movement delays at an early age and initiating early intervention. This study examines parents' knowledge of early motor development and their understanding of the importance of early intervention. There is increasing evidence that early therapy services have a positive effect on developmental outcomes for young children with movement delays. Several studies report developmental and functional benefits for children receiving interventions.(Ketelaar M, Phys Ther 2001:81:1534–45, Brooks-Gunn J, McCarton C. Casey P et al., JAMA 1994;272:1257–62)
Number of Subjects:
500 Parents were asked to complete a survey while in the waiting rooms of pediatrician's offices and the physical therapy department of Children's Memorial Hospital.
Parents were surveyed about their understanding of early child development, their preferences for obtaining resource information regarding the general health of their child and for answers related to concerns about their children's motor skills.
*About one quarter (23.9%) of the parents surveyed reported that at some point they had been concerned about one of their children having a movement delay; 6.4% of the sample of parents surveyed reported having at least one child diagnosed with a movement delay.
*Parents regard pediatricians and physician specialists as the most reliable sources of general child health information and identify them as the sources they would most often use if they had a concern about their children's motor skills.
*Less than half of all parents report that they would talk to their child's pediatrician before 12 months if they had concerns about their child's motor skills. For the three months infant motor skills milestones, 80% of all parents would talk to their child's pediatrician later than what is recommended. Therefore, most parents would not reach out at this critical time.
*For parents who did discuss concerns about their child's motor skills with a pediatrician, the majority were advised by their pediatrician to talk to a physician specialist or non-physician specialist right away; about 40% were advised to wait and see or to get more information before seeking additional medical care.
The majority of parents surveyed were unaware that earlier screening of movement delays is critical. Research supports family engagement in early therapy for children with movement delays has an impact on a greater range of developmental outcomes (Lekskulchai and Cole, 2001).
The results of this study suggest that there are a number of ways to increase the early detection of movement delays in children. Increasing parents' familiarity with early childhood development will increase the reporting of and thus detection of a possible movement delay. More importantly, this knowledge would empower early collaborative discussion of concerns with the family pediatrician, which in turn would facilitate early intervention.