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Are My Twins Developmentally Delayed?

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Maybe you can help me with a few perspectives on the developmental track of my three year old identical twin boys, Will and Jeff. I've been ruminating on the subject of developmental delays recently since a neighbor of mine learned that two of her five kids are supposedly "delayed." While I don't want to make a problem where there is none, I don't want to be blind to issues that may require help in some way.

Will and Jeff will turn three on March 23, and they are sheer delights; easygoing, happy, healthy, filled with wonder at their world. They just seem more than a little pokey as far as learning things like body parts, ABCs, colors, animal sounds, etc., as well as fine motor skills like holding a fork/spoon. They enjoy reading tremendously and freely choose to read to themselves after most meals, although for the past four or five months they seem to dislike sitting in my or my husband's lap to read, maybe some kind of control thing ,lately. They're very physically adept, into climbing and other gross motor skills, and Jeff ,in particular ,delights in hanging from the top of the swing set/jungle gym . He also enjoys playing basketball. Although I do restrict TV watching to one to two hours per day they're not terribly interested in TV or videos except for a few Winnie the Pooh tapes. They undress themselves and Will lately likes to try to reverse the process and re-dress himself after undressing, although other self-care steps like bathing and using utensils at dinner are of little to no interest despite our encouragement.

Both increasingly are verbal, especially Jeff who's into whole sentences and initiating a conversation with me. Will tends to sing more than speak and only ask for something by name if he really wants it, not to express a thought like Jeff will do. Yet Will is interested in toilet learning lately,(still a ways to go )but he has learned the after-the-fact feelings and will sometimes run to the bathroom when he thinks it's "time." While both know their names ,Jeff will more consistently tell you his name, although neither will state his age or even get real excited about the upcoming birthday. They still go through hard bouts of separation anxiety. We're in the throes of one again now, where even Dad won't be of any comfort if it's Mom they miss, even when Mom is just around the corner in the shower.

I'm not a flash card mom but I try very hard to expose them to all sorts of experiences. I work part-time three days per week out of my home and do lots of enriching little kid field trips etc., on my days off, and try to create an enriching yet safe and consistent environment for them. I see the other little boys in our neighborhood (there were seven boys born in a nine month span here) and note that most of them are "further along." I truly feel my kids are right where they're meant to be today, and that I'm doing the same things I did for my daughter (albeit that she was an only child back then) that allowed her to blossom. However I'd like to know when to be concerned, and when it's just an individual variation in development.

A: You are not "blind" to any developmental delays- there are none. Don't let some neighbor's news of "supposed" developmental delays in a couple of her kids and your observation that most other neighborhood boys are "further along" cloud your ability to see and to be excited by the delightful, enriched, adventurous, healthy, safe and secure lives your boys are living. I wish I were a youngster living in your house!

Your detailed descriptions of your son's indicates they are perfectly in line with all significant developmental milestones and what's more they are living in a home full of love and support for them. Mary Kae, let your heart inform your mind and take pleasure in the current wonderful, vibrant world you and your husband are offering your kids. Listen to the wisdom your soul speaks in the sentence you offer,"I truly feel my kids are right where they're meant to be today ...". Your soul's wisdom is the only reality you need heed. Enjoy these children and your lives with them!

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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