I am not a doctor, nor did this information come from a doctor. I am speaking on what I have learned through having a special needs child of my own. If you feel your child may have a development delay you should contact their Pediatrician.
As you watch your child grow up, you will see them go through many normal changes that are all part of the growing process. It’s important to remember that we all grow and develop at a different rate, and what’s normal for one child, could be different for another. Parents of multiple children have to be careful about comparing them in this way. One might walk before the other, and one might talk later than another. This is all normal. However, there are a set of guidelines that show “average” ranges for children to develop certain skills and abilities and if your child is missing these ranges by a lot, it might be considered a delay.
They might include:
Language or speech
Movement – motor skills
Social and emotional skills
Thinking and cognitive skills or Vision
A delay might occur in one, or several of these areas. It can even happen in all of them, which is called global developmental delay. Other times, your child may only be delayed in one area. If your child is diagnosed with a developmental delay, you should understand that this doesn’t mean your child will never learn these skills. It just means that they are not picking them up at the age range that is considered average and this requires some more looking into.
First, your pediatrician will probably try to determine a cause for these developmental delays. Sometimes they can be attributed to something like illness, an infection, or a congenital problem.
Genetic defects such as Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, premature birth, and fragile X syndrome are some examples of causes of developmental delays.
Other causes are specific to the type of delay. For example, a language or speech delay could be caused by a learning disability, exposure to more than one language at a young age, child abuse or neglect, hearing loss, autism spectrum disorders, or no known cause at all.
Vision delays could be caused by infantile cataracts, strabismus (cross eyes), or other eye diseases. Sometimes no cause is found.
Motor skill delays can be caused by ataxia, cerebral palsy, problems with vision, spina bifida, cognitive delays, or myopathy.
Social delays can be caused by cognitive delays, neglect in early life, ineffective parenting or attachment problems, autism spectrum disorders, or unknown reasons.
Cognitive delays can be caused by genetic defects, medical problems before birth, or exposure to something harmful in the environment.
Regardless of the cause of the delay, your doctor will probably send you and your child to specialists who will help your child through therapies. In some cases, such as vision problems, corrective equipment may be needed. You will also learn about things you can do at home to help your child advance through these delays.
Has your child been diagnosed with a developmental delay?
Our daughter was diagnosed with Mixed Receptive and Expressive Language Disorder, Speech/Sound Disorder, Speech Apraxia and Developmental Coordination Disorder.
Read more about our process of how she was diagnosed…