Premature infants are at risk for developmental and cognitive delays. Developmental Delay is when your child does not reach their developmental milestones at the expected times. If your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), your baby is expected to reach various milestones based on their due date, not their birthday. So if your baby was born three months early, they will most likely achieve milestones three months later (at their corrected age).
Who can help?
There is so much support around Australia for children with delays or special needs. The services of an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Psychology & Speech Therapist work with children who have a wide range of delays.
A few of the most common delays premature children face are;
- Speech & language delay
- Low muscle tone & low trunk tone
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Sensory processing disorders
- Global milestone delay
- Social & emotional development
- Growth delays
- Failure to thrive (feeding complications)
Who should you consult if you believe your child has a delay?
- Your General GP
- Your Maternal Child & Health Nurse
- Your Local Hospital
- Your Childs Paediatrician
- Child Care Centre and pre-school staff
Links and other resources for information and support
Australian Therapy Directory
Sensory processing disorders
Premature infant programs
Find a specialised therapist in your area
Bestchance Early Intervention
Life Skills for Kids
Kids Therapy Network
Occupational Therapy Australia
Check with the hospital where your baby was born to find out where they can refer your child if you have any concerns or if they have therapy available for your childs needs. Also speak to your MCHN about what services your local council has to offer.
If your child has a delay that will be evident for up to 12 months or more you may be eligible for Carers Allowence through Centrelink to help support you financially. The payments for Carers Allowence is approx $113.00 per fortnight. Further information and eligibility details are available on their website.
Many of our members frequent private and public therapy services for their children around Australia so please join our “Growth, Development & Milestones” or “Premature Babies Special Needs“ sections on the forum where you will gain loads of support from parents.
Most premature children with developmental delays respond well to professional therapy.
The subject matter provided in these articles is strictly for informational purposes alone and should never be used in the place of a doctor’s advice. Please ALWAYS contact your doctor if you ever have questions or need advice in any area where medical advice is needed or medication is suggested.