INTRODUCTION TO DEVEOPMENTAL DELAY
Introduction and Definition
As a child grows and develops, he learns different skills, such as taking a first step,
smiling for the first time, or waving goodbye. These skills are known developmental
milestones. A child with a developmental delay does not reach these milestones at the
same time as other children the same age. There are five main groups of skills that make
up the developmental milestones. A child may have a developmental delay in one or
more of these areas.
• Gross motor: using large groups of muscles to sit, stand, walk, run, etc., keeping
balance, and changing positions.
• Fine motor: using hands and fingers to be able to eat, ...view middle of the document...
These are just some of the conditions that can result in developmental delays.
In addition, many children have delays in language or other areas, which also impact
school readiness. However, less than 50% of these children are identified as having a
problem before starting school, by which time significant delays may have already
occurred and opportunities for treatment have been missed.
WHAT CAUSES DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY?
Developmental delay can have many different causes, such as genetic causes (like Down
syndrome), or complications of pregnancy and birth (like prematurity or infections).
Often, however, the specific cause is unknown. Some causes can be easily reversed if
caught early enough, such as hearing loss from chronic ear infections.
CAN DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY BE PREVENTED?
Since there are so many different conditions that can lead to developmental delays, there
isn’t one “right way” to prevent developmental delay. What’s important is to be aware of
your baby’s development and consult your pediatrician if you think there may be a
problem. Early intervention is key in helping your child overcome any developmental
WHAT PUTS A CHILD AT RISK FOR DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY?
The risk factors for developmental delays fall into two very broad categories:
o Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome or Fragile
X syndrome and other disorders put a child at risk for developmental
o Exposure to harmful agents before or after birth, such as lead
o Severe poverty
o Poor nutrition
o Lack of care
Risk factors have a cumulative impact upon development. As the number of risk factors
increases, a child is put at greater risk for developmental delay.
HOW IS DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY DIAGNOSED?
Developmental delay can be difficult to diagnose. There are two types of tests that can
be done, developmental screening and developmental evaluation.
Doctors and nurses use developmental screening to tell if children are learning basic
skills when they should, or if they might have problems. Your child's doctor may ask you
questions or talk and play with your child during an exam to see how he or she learns,
speaks, behaves, and moves. Since there is no lab or blood test to tell if your child may
have a delay, the developmental screening will help tell if your child needs to see a
A diagnosis cannot be made simply by using a screening test. If the results of a screening
test suggest a child may have a developmental delay, the child should be referred for a
A developmental evaluation is a long, in-depth assessment of a child's skills and should
be administered by a highly trained professional, such as a psychologist. The results of a
developmental evaluation are used to determine if the child is in need of early
intervention services and/or a treatment plan.
There are a variety...