Episode 38: Detecting Developmental Delays

November 18, 2018

Episode 38 is dedicated to you – Curt Schilling, of the World Series winning Diamondbacks, with your bloody sock and all.

This week’s episode features an interview with Christie Priem, an incredible Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). She is also the founder, owner, and genius mind, and loving heart behind Chirp : an online resource to make churches welcoming for those with special needs.

Christie has used this verse to guide her in the heart of her ministry:

“What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 NLT) .

She is caring for the fragile, and often over-looked community of special needs kids, because they are of great worth to Jesus!

In this interview:

Our interview with Christie, she shares 5 Developmental Keys (plus a bonus one!) to help parents, and anyone who works with children, to recognize developmental delays, as well as so many other tools to help children to develop well. Because the interview was so rich with content, we broke it up into 2 parts. So today is part one! And it ends kind of abruptly, because there is no outro/closing statement. But come back next week for the final 2 keys plus the bonus.

Developmental Key #1 is Self Regulation.

Self-regulation is the ability to stay calm in challenging circumstances.

Self-regulation is not the same thing as self-control.

Self-control is my ability to keep my actions, words, and thoughts
appropriate to my goals.

Self-regulation is my ability to adjust to changing stimuli so I stay in
control of myself rather than falling apart or disengaging.

Self-regulation requires that I know how to recognize my feelings and deal
with them appropriately so that I don’t melt down. I need to know how to
calm myself when I’m getting upset.

Children must learn to regulate themselves before they can learn to engage
with and learn from other people and the world around them!

Developmental Key #2 is Engagement.

If a child does not engage with the world, this is the clearest sign that something is amiss. As parents and teachers and leaders of children, we need to invite children in to the world and help them to find things that are engaging. Children need to play to help them learn, and exercise all the skills that they are learning.

Developmental Key #3 is Enjoyable and Flexible Play.

Christie gave an example of a child playing with a toy for 8 hours straight, and upon observation, the child was manipulating the toys and furniture in precise and exact 90 degree angles. This is not flexible play. Because when Christie tried to join in, things went badly. Children need to be like a tree that is able to not break when the wind blows. Learning to play in a way that is enjoyable and flexible helps them to develop into said strong tree that does not break. Children also need to play to help them learn, and exercise all the skills that they are learning.

resources for play: Hanen Play and Lurie Children’s Play

Developmental Key #4 is Appropriate Sensory Processing

Many children have different sensory needs
that often go unrecognized.

We can help the child meet those sensory
needs (sort of like scratching an itch) and
therefore enable a child to be calmer, more
focused, and better able to learn.


The sensory system has eight currently recognized parts:

  1. Visual
  2. Olfactory (smell)
  3. Auditory (hearing)
  4. Gustatory (tasting)
  5. Tactile (touch)
  6. Proprioception (input to joints, ligaments, and tendons)
  7. Vestibular (sense of where body is in space)
  8. Time (sense of time passing)
  9. Interoception (sense of what’s going on IN the body)

Developmental Key #5 Appropriate Behavior

Basically, negative feelings about a child indicates a need for more support for the child. Challenging behaviors stem from a lack of skills! So take your time to figure out what your child NEEDS when they are melting down or not able to communicate.

Kids who demonstrate challenging behavior experience mostly unpleasant/negative
interactions with adults (and other kids)

  • “Stop it!”
  • “Sit down!”
  • “Be good!”

All of these comments, though not inappropriate, indicate to the child that s/he isn’t good enough. With little hope of pleasing the adult, the child often stops trying!

Studies show that a predictable schedule can reduce difficult behaviors by
80%Transitions between activities are the most challenging time for kids
because they’re not sure exactly what’s expected during that time


  • Visual reminders of expected behavior (sitting, sharing toys)
  • Activities prepared beforehand (not much waiting between activities)
  • Timers for turn-taking
  • “Scarecrow effect”
  • Alternate active/less active and challenging/easy tasks
  • Teach social skills
  • Buffer activities (special noise-maker, highly preferred activity during
    transition to less-preferred activity)

The (Good) Word of the Day

He cared for them with a true heart
    and led them with skillful hands.

Psalm 78:72

We love this verse that Christie shared with us. David led his army with a true heart AND skillful hands, and as parents and leaders, we need to do the same. Sometimes we will make mistakes, but if our hearts are truly in the right place, AND we are trying our best to continually learn, and to have skillful hands, our children will benefit greatly from that.

This week is Thanksgiving week and we are so thankful for all of you listeners! We hope you had a delicious and restful week.

To find our more about Christie:

Special Needs Channel on YouTube


If you Want to Connect on Social Media:

You can find me at:

Jihae Watson on Facebook

Fostering Voices on Instagram

Jihae Watson on Instagram

AND we would LOVE it if you would leave us a review on iTunes! This helps others to find our podcast so we can share these voices from the foster care and adoption community with more people!



Episode 38: Detecting Developmental Delays


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