We never label or diagnose or use words like ADHD etc. because we are not medical professionals; instead, we will sensitively discuss the behaviors we are noticing in class.
The most common developmental delays we see are speech, but we sometimes see processing or motor skill delays. The most common disorders we see are sensory processing, but we sometimes see ADHD, Aspergers, or children on the Autism Spectrum.
If you suspect a developmental delay or disorder (or if a parent discusses a concern with you) this is the approach we usually take with parents:
FIRST: TALK TO PRESCHOOL PARENTS
First, teachers should set up a time to speak to parents privately after class to begin dialogue. Say “I’ve noticed (behavior or delay) in class. Have you noticed that at home as well?”
(This breaks the ice in a non- confrontational manner. It allows them to talk and clues you in to how aware they are of their child’s behavior. It also helps you find out if they are open to help or are getting defensive just talking about it.
Remember, parents may be emotional – they might not know there is a concern, or they might have already noticed the behavior and are fearful or concerned about it. Be sensitive, empathetic, and supportive.
SECOND: SHARE MILESTONE CHECKLISTS
Second, you can share the Developmental Milestone checklists (specific to that child’s age) and review any delays you or parent are noticing.
Explain that early intervention is the key to helping the behavior before it worsens. By talking to a pediatrician, there will be one of two outcomes, but both will have positive aspects. If concerns are ruled out, parents can rest easy. If there are indeed confirmed concerns, the child can start receiving help and services.
THIRD: PARTNER WITH THE PARENTS
Third, you can continue the dialogue throughout the year as needed, and conference time is another great time to continue talking about it. If the parents are receptive to help, you can offer the following suggestions based on the level of disorder or delay:
- Definitely do (if you see any delay or disorder): Parents should tell concerns to child’s pediatrician
- Maybe do (if delay or behavior is severe): Parents can usually schedule a free developmental screening by calling their local school district. Often, the district holds screenings in Aug./Sep. and Jan./Feb. If a child qualifies (i.e. has significant developmental delays) they can often receive free preschool services through the district as well. If children don’t qualify for speech, the parents can also contact a local speech therapy business for a screening.