Child Development | When to be worried and what you should do. Advice from a Special Needs Mama that's been there @gymbunnymum

Our kids all develop at different rates, the milestones are a guideline and not set in stone but after noticing some developmental delays with Archie, I started to get worried.

After having a few conversations with other mums who went through something similar with their child development, I wanted to share our story of when should you be worried & what to do.

Archie has had a few issues from birth, from his milk allergy to his congenital curly toes, basically where his second toe on each foot is protruding and overlapping his big toes, therefore when other ‘issues’ started coming to light a lot of people thought I was being over concerned over nothing and that he would catch up in his own time.

Archie’s allergy was pretty extreme, he had severe reactions to my breast milk and ended up having to have milk prescribed from the doctor but even then he was never much of a crier. He was very alert but wasn’t very responsive and even as a baby didn’t like to be touched by anyone other than me. He was never a good sleeper which we put down to his feeding problems but as he got older his sleeping worsened rather than got better until he was waking on average 10-12 times a night.

As he got older he seemed to be meeting the usual milestones such as sitting and holding his head steady, even a little baby babble but by about nine months old he was completely silent. No one else seemed to be concerned about this but me, I left it for it to ‘come naturally’, when the affection, cuddles and kisses never came I really started to get that niggly feeling that it something just wasn’t quite right.

By around ten months Archie was really being to start being aware of his surroundings and his toys, he would astound us by sorting toys by size, lining them up and by 12 months he could build a tower like nobody’s business, even using his toys to create patterns like the above. Everyone was telling me how clever he was and how he was hitting all his milestones, I knew he was advanced in some areas but very behind in others.

toddler-food-problems (8) toddler-food-problems (6)

His issues around textures and smells really started to come to light at this age, especially round food. He was barely eating anything and just refusing food or throwing it on the floor. Again being a ‘typical boy’ or ‘fussy eater’, I should be stricter with him, he’ll eat when he’s hungry etc etc but this just didn’t happen. he would rather starve than eat something he doesn’t want, he’s now 31 months old & is pretty much only eating toast, mashed potato & yoghurt and much prefers to ‘lick’ rather than eat with a fork or spoon.

By twelve months his lack of responsiveness was the biggest worry for me, he would sit & line up his toys and no matter how much you called his name, clapped your hands etc you just couldn’t get his attention. There was no gesturing, waving etc when he saw people or when they left. Even when Daddy came home from work he wouldn’t even notice and if he did he wouldn’t seem bothered that he was home. Every now & then you’d get a little glimpse of affection but there was no cuddles or kisses, he just might sit on your knee but in the way you would on a chair not the snuggly way you expect from little ones.

He would respond to some noise on occasion, like the sound of aeroplanes going overhead so everyone else just said he was being a typical boy with selective hearing but I just had to do something, I was so worried for his hearing and thought this was why he was silent and wasn’t developing any speech. After leaving a few voicemails with the Health Visiting Team I ended up walking into the clinic and insisting someone come & chat to me about my concerns. The Health Visitor tried to get Archie’s attention but he was having none of it and wouldn’t even look at her. She immediately referred us to Audiology at the local hospital for  hearing test.

Two tests later his hearing was confirmed to be absolutely fine but she raised some concerns regarding his interaction and suggested a referral to Speech Therapy due to him still having no speech whatsoever at 18 months

He had some pretty extreme reactions at the Speech & Language Assesment, even hitting her which was very out of character but as he got older he got more distressed he got around people. He wasn’t social at all and would even turn his back on other children if they wanted to play with him. The Speech Therapist was amazingly patient with him but after the initial hours assessment she suggested it was something more, she said she wasn’t going to suggest labels at this stage but he needed further referrals.

This then lead onto other specialists getting involved with Archie and after more assessments he was initially being diagnosed with a severe developmental delay with Autistic Tendencies due to his young age, he was only just 24 months at this stage. We’re still awaiting his ‘official’ diagnosis of Autism as he’s still so young and not quite three yet, although all the specialists involved in his care have agreed it’s Autism and he is now registered as disabled.


If I had of listened to everyone telling me not to worry and that he would ‘come along’ in his own time then Archie wouldn’t be getting the specialist support he needs, he wouldn’t have his Special Needs place at nursery, he wouldn’t be getting his Speech Therapy and who knows where we would be in regards to his developmental delay.

Don’t worry if they are not hitting one or two milestones, they will progress at their own pace but if there’s a few things you are concerned about then go and speak to your Health Visitor. I’ve spoken to other mum’s who went to their Doctor first who was pretty dismissive, the Health Visitor should be the first point of call.

Have a list ready of your concerns, it’s easy to forget things when you’re worried or flustered, and don’t be fobbed off. Stand your ground about your concerns and why. Our family have agreed that if I hadn’t have been so concerned and pursued it then Archie would probably have further issues now.

I’ve not included all the little traits & issues that lead to the concerns about Autism as this could fill the whole blog and I’d rather not focus on what he can’t do but what he can, but you can follow Archie’s Autism Journey to find out more.

I hope this has helped but feel free to ask any questions if you’re concerned about your little one & I’ll do what I can to give you my advice.

Linking this post up with these lovely linkies

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  1. June 1, 2015 / 8:07 am

    This is really useful, thank you. Mothers instinct often knows best #MaternityMondays
    Rebecca U recently posted…Chloe | 14 monthsMy Profile

  2. June 1, 2015 / 11:35 am

    Great post! I think as mums it’s so easy to be told not to worry by people around us but ultimately we know or children best. There have been times when I’ve worried over nothing but there have also been times when I’ve been right. #sundaystars
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…Heartbroken – a letter to EmmaMy Profile

    • June 2, 2015 / 6:03 pm

      Thanks so much. It really is so important, I’m so glad I pursued it otherwise who knows where we’d be x
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…My Sunday Photo #5My Profile

  3. June 1, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    What a really honest and informative post. We have ‘severe developmental delay’ too and I sobbed when I heard that. I wish I could write about it but Hubster has banned me and I have to respect his wishes on that.
    It does help me reading blogs like this though as otherwise, you feel so alone. Thank you
    Farmerswifeandmummy recently posted…Chemist Direct-A ReviewMy Profile

    • June 2, 2015 / 6:05 pm

      You really can feel so alone, especially in this situation as we have to avoid anything that may distress him or cause meltdowns do things like toddler groups are a no no. I’m so glad I started blogging & found the support network I have. I hope things work out for your little one, if you even need a matter you know where I am x
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…Sunday Sweets Linky | 31st May 2015My Profile

  4. June 1, 2015 / 9:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is so important to notice dev delays. I won’t say to always trust your Mummy gut as my parents were the ones who were in denial about my autism (which led to me only being diagnosed at age 20). It is pretty common tha tpeople ascribe dev delays to other issues such as in Archie’s case his food allergy and in my case my blindness. However risk factors for other issues/disabilities are also often risk factors for autism (eg. the fact that I was a preemie). Also, minor physical abnormalities are more common in autistic children than non-autistic ones. #SundaysStars
    Astrida recently posted…June 2015 GoalsMy Profile

    • June 2, 2015 / 6:08 pm

      I think that was the issue with some of our family, they were in denial there were any issues, especially as he was very advanced in some areas. Instead of seeing this as a sign of Autism, they saw it as a reason why he couldn’t have it. I’m glad I pursued it x
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…Sunday Sweets Linky | 31st May 2015My Profile

  5. June 1, 2015 / 10:59 pm

    This is such a clear example that we need to trust our instincts as mums. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by “expert” advice and lose confidence. Well done for following your instincts and getting your son the support that he needs! #MaternityMondays
    Love From Clueless Mum recently posted…Why I Tried To Ignore The “Bressure”My Profile

    • June 2, 2015 / 6:10 pm

      Thanks so much. Deep down I knew there were issues but just didn’t know what, I’m so glad I trusted my instincts otherwise we’d never have known the seriousness of what we’re dealing with x
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…Sunday Sweets Linky | 31st May 2015My Profile

  6. June 2, 2015 / 10:00 am

    Reading this with tears in my eyes Toni, I have a similar post sat in dradts about my almost 6yo. Us mums must trust our gut instincts when it comes to our children.

    All the best with getting a speedy diagnosis for little Archie and the support he needs xx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…When Life Throws Up A Sh*t Storm, How ACE Are You?My Profile

    • June 2, 2015 / 6:36 pm

      Thanks so much, it’s a post I’d been writing on & off for a while & decided the time was right for it as we have another paediatrician appointment very soon. Hope things go ok for you, if you ever need an ear to bend you know where I am xx
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…My Sunday Photo #5My Profile

  7. June 2, 2015 / 11:10 pm

    It just goes to show you need to persevere if you have concerns, as you say thank goodness all the support is in place for Archie now and I’m sure that will help him and you a great deal x
    Julia @ rainbeaubelle recently posted…Me and Mine – a portrait for MayMy Profile

    • June 2, 2015 / 11:41 pm

      Thanks Julia, I really am so glad I chose to go with my instincts. I never suspected Autism for a second to start off with but if I hadn’t had my concerns regarding his development we wouldn’t be any where near a diagnosis yet and early intervention is absolutely key x
      gymbunnymum recently posted…Sunday Sweets Linky | 31st May 2015My Profile

  8. June 3, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    This is such a helpful post. I think people’s instinct is to reassure and effectively dismiss concerns, because they want to make the other person feel better. But I believe a mother’s instinct is always right, as you have proved with Archie. I wish you all the best in supporting his development, and happy third birthday when it comes (soon I think from your post?). x
    Jess Paterson recently posted…Paintbrushes Are For Fools #WickedWednesdays #9My Profile

  9. K's Mum
    June 4, 2015 / 9:16 am

    Great post! As a parent, I would rather be more paranoid (within reason) rather than just brush things off. Always follow maternal instincts. #brilliantblogposts

  10. June 4, 2015 / 9:28 am

    Thank you for sharing this! It´s really difficult to know when you are worrying too much, as I believe most mothers usually do, and when to get attention from your GP or health visitor. Too many times I fear they are too dismissive and don´t pay enough attention to cases that turn out to be requiring it! x
    Ann Winters recently posted…My Monday making: Preparing for Father’s Day! part 1My Profile

  11. June 4, 2015 / 1:31 pm

    So true. And very useful to know. We so often get told that we are simply overreacting but I think a mother’s instincts are always right. Thanks for sharing #TwinklyTuesday
    Christine Kenny recently posted…To be Happier, I do NOT need…My Profile

  12. June 6, 2015 / 7:04 pm

    Having a child is terrifying and its normal to worry but nice to know we are not alone :). #bigfatlinky

  13. June 8, 2015 / 8:14 pm

    I am always worried are my kids learning enough or at the right level. Great tips and guidelines here to compare to. It’s hard cause each child is so different so it leaves us parents never knowing where we stand with our own. lol I think they do catch up in school at different ages eventually but always like them to be fully prepared for what is needed when they start. Great post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Advice to my childrenMy Profile

    • June 30, 2015 / 5:52 pm

      Thanks so much Jenny. Yes all kids are so different, even siblings. We just had to try & determine when it becomes an issue or a sign that something might not be quite right
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…SUNDAY SWEETS LINKY | 28TH JUNE 2015My Profile

  14. June 9, 2015 / 9:11 pm

    I work with young adults with autism and mild learning disabilities as my job and i knew there was something wrong with my oldest daughters speech but it still took me years to get things sorted with speech therapy ( she had delayed speech until she was 9) i always knew something was not right but everyone kept brushing me off. I think it is great you have written this as it may help other parents going through something similar x #sharewithme
    Lindsay @ Newcastle Family Life recently posted…Dreaming Of A Full Night’s SleepMy Profile

  15. June 11, 2015 / 8:09 am

    Fantastic informative post. I’d say your completely right. After all, what;s the harm in mentioning your concerns to someone? Even if you’re wrong you could at least get some reassurance. In my experience as a teacher when a parent persistently thinks something is wrong they are not often incorrect.


  16. June 11, 2015 / 1:49 pm

    It just goes to show that nothing can compare to a mother’s instincts. I’m glad that you have the support set in place that you need x #sharewithme
    Mummy Whiskers recently posted…Stress-Free Potty TrainingMy Profile

    • June 30, 2015 / 5:59 pm

      Thank you so much. I’m so glad I pushed it instead of waiting, at least we’re now in the system instead of it not being picked up until he’s much older
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…HOW TO FIND YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCEMy Profile

  17. June 11, 2015 / 2:28 pm

    Your post took me back in time to a year ago now. I was convinced that my son had autism because he would line his toys up just like in your pictures and he still does now. He loves lining up objects and he was also never affectionate and had his ears tested due to not reacting at all, even to me and his dad. He had many autistic traits. I was told he wouldn’t be diagnosed until about 5 years old because they had to be sure. At three years old he has a severe speech and language delay but is now showing affection, gives eye contact and is not anxious around lights, sounds and people like he once was. I’m not so sure he is on the spectrum after all but he does still have some traits. The not knowing for me is so frustrating but I agree that if you feel somethings not right you need to ask for help. I wrote a similar post a while back called “be tour childs voice”. I’m a firm believer in being your childs advocate. Sometimes you just got to fight for them when everyone seems to be dismissing you. Sorry for the long reply. It’s just that your post really struck a cord with me ♡

    • June 30, 2015 / 6:02 pm

      Thanks for leaving such a long reply, I’m so glad my writing is helpful. Sometimes as you a mum you don’t know if you’re doing the right thing so if I can reach out & help someone then that’s amazing
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…SUNDAY SWEETS LINKY | 28TH JUNE 2015My Profile

  18. June 12, 2015 / 8:08 pm

    Great post. Really glad i found your blog. I am a fellow northerner also blogging about my life with my family, including my autistic son. Lots of similarities here. It can be very hard for family to accept but a mum’s gut instinct is always right!
    Catie recently posted…How autism is making me a better friendMy Profile

    • June 30, 2015 / 6:03 pm

      Thanks for the comment Caitie, I’m going to pop ove Mr & have a nosy at your blog. It’s so hard for some people to accept but the sooner we deal with it the better it will be in the long term x
      gymbunnymummy recently posted…SUNDAY SWEETS LINKY | 28TH JUNE 2015My Profile

  19. April 4, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    A really important post that needs to be read if anyone has any concerns about their child. It really does show that you should go with your gut instinct as a parent. When Mia was first born, I was easily fobbed off by people and as a first time mum, was given that excuse however I soon realised that I have every right to be concerned about things and ask for advice, no matter how small the problem. I’m so glad you were able to get help and getting a diagnosis, official or not, is great for Archie and great for you as you can now help Archie as much as you can 🙂


  20. April 4, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    It’s great that you’re so open with your experience so others can feel supported as I imagine you felt very alone when you first pushed for others to recognise that there was something more to why Archie wasn’t progressing in some areas. If nothing else, it shows that we should always trust our natural instinct and remember to be confident in our conversations with anyone related to the care of little ones x
    Kay Brown recently posted…Top Picks: Children’s Literature Baby ItemsMy Profile

  21. April 5, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    A clear and informative post. We should really trust our instincts, even though we focus on the clever things our children can do, we should not ignore their problems with communication.

  22. April 5, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    Yep, I was so there… self-referring, hearing tests, speech checks etc. I always count myself lucky because I already had our older girl to compare her to (although of course everyone says you shouldn’t compare) – I’d probably have left it much later if I didn’t x
    Stephs Two Girls recently posted…AAA Day Four (April Autism Awareness)My Profile

  23. April 29, 2016 / 1:24 am

    I really hope other users consider your post here as useful as I have. I manage a website myself and would be delighted for you or the readers on your own website to visit. Please feel free to look through my site like I have with yours and leave a comment or two if you find anything interesting. Thanks again.

  24. September 9, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    Good to find an expert who knows what he’s talking about!

  25. January 9, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    I have concerns over my youngest Ru and before we moved it felt like I was finally getting somewhere and now we’ve moved I feel as though I’m back at square one.
    I’m dreading meeting our new health visitor incase she takes no notice.
    The eating and no sleeping issues are really making me feel like I’m at breaking point.
    Hannah recently posted…#MySundayPhoto // What Ru woreMy Profile

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