What a child learns and develops goes much beyond the realm of the physical. From infancy onward, children are constantly evolving and learning new things. How a child acts, moves, talks, and plays tells us a lot about their level of development.
Developmental milestones include achievements like a child's first steps, first smile, and first "bye-bye." Children develop in many ways, from playing and learning to talking and acting and even walking and running (crawling, walking, etc.). If your kid is falling behind their peers at these age-appropriate tasks, they may be experiencing a developmental delay.
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What are the Causes and chances of developmental delay?
About 17% of children aged 3-17 have a developmental disability, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many forms of developmental disability are present from birth, but others might be acquired later on because of things like infection or injury.
It might be challenging to identify the precise cause of developmental delay because there are so many potential triggers. Down syndrome is an example of a condition that has its roots in a person's genes.
Premature birth, infection during pregnancy, or other difficulties during labour and delivery are all possible causes of developmental delay.
As a result of other medical issues, developmental delay may also manifest.
- autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)
- cerebral palsy
- fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Landau Kleffner syndrome
- myopathies, including muscular dystrophies
- genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome
Keep in mind that your child's rate of development may be quite normal, even though it may seem slower to you. However, if you're worried, it's best to have a specialist evaluate your child.
Children with developmental delays who are of school age may qualify for specialised education and support services. Need and locality determine the specifics of these services.
Find out what resources are available by contacting your local school system and medical centre. Your child can benefit academically from specialised instruction, especially if you begin it at a young age.
Some forms of developmental delay require specific treatments, while others do not. Help with motor skill delays can be gained through physical therapy, while aid with ASD and other disabilities can be gained through behavioural and educational therapy.
Some situations may require the use of medicines. A pediatrician's evaluation and diagnosis are essential to developing an individualised treatment strategy for your kid.
Signs and Symptoms of Developmental Delay
Signs and symptoms of delay in children can take numerous forms and may vary widely from one child to the next. In some circumstances, symptoms will become apparent in infancy, while in others, they won't become evident until the child starts school. Many people have the following as their primary symptoms:
- Learning and development are slower than in other children of the same age.
- Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, or walking much later than is developmental.
- Difficulty communicating or socializing with others
- Lower than average scores on IQ tests
- Difficulties talking or talking late
- Having problems remembering things
- Inability to link actions to outcomes
- Difficulties with problem solving or logical thinking
- Having difficulty learning in school
Incapacity to care for oneself independently, such as by dressing oneself or using the restroom
Your child's developmental skills may be enhanced by the discovery and treatment of the underlying medical cause of the developmental delay.
Developmental Delay in Children: Diagnosis and Tests
If your kid is falling behind their classmates in social, emotional, intellectual, or physical development, they may be experiencing a developmental delay. Treating a delayed child as soon as possible increases the likelihood of the child making progress or even catching up.
Medical History and Parent Interview
All of the elements that may influence your kid's growth and development are taken into account by our doctors, child psychologists, and child psychiatrists while reviewing the comprehensive medical history form you'll fill out.
During a child's initial consultation, our doctors will enquire for specifics regarding the child's birth and medical history, such as the presence or absence of any preexisting conditions, drugs, or surgeries. A pregnant woman may be asked about her medical history. They also ask whether there's a history of any neurological, developmental, or mental health issues in the family.
The doctors may also enquire about whether or not your child has been tested for or treated for a learning disability or other developmental delay, depending on how old your child is.
What is developmental screening?
Medical professionals can learn a lot about whether or not a child is on track to meet developmental milestones through screenings that assess the child's ability to perform fundamental tasks at age-appropriate times. During an exam, your kid's doctor may pose questions to you or engage in conversation and play with the child. This will reveal the kid's cognitive, linguistic, behavioural, and motor development.
The doctor or nurse may also offer you a questionnaire or set of questions to answer. Screening for developmental delays might help you decide if your kid needs to see a specialist. There is currently no way to determine if your child may be experiencing a developmental delay through a laboratory or blood test.
Variation in development and behaviour is common across the age spectrum. There may be no harm in a child reaching a developmental milestone before or after the average. If your kid requires the care of a specialist, you will be notified by their doctor.
The pediatrician will examine your child physically to determine his or her state of health. Additionally, he or she is on the lookout for abnormalities in the child's growth or appearance. A genetic abnormality that impacts cognitive ability, such as Down syndrome, microcephaly, or neurofibromatosis, may be indicated by an abnormal head, eye, or skin pattern.
The doctor also checks for issues that could affect gross and fine motor development, such as asymmetry in the length of the legs or fingers. If your child is having trouble with eating or speaking, the doctor will examine his or her mouth and palate to determine if there is a problem with the muscles or other structures in the mouth.
Your child's reflexes, muscular tone, and balance will also be evaluated to rule out neurological disorders. The doctor may inquire as to whether your kid can walk, balance on one foot, throw and catch a ball, or go up and down stairs, all of which are typical developmental milestones.
A neuropsychologist or developmental-behavioral paediatrician will watch your child's behaviour and social skills in contexts where they interact with adults and other children in order to determine whether or not there are any signs of a delay in their development.
Your child's behaviour and social skills will be evaluated by a neuropsychologist or developmental-behavioral paediatrician who specialises in spotting developmental delays while they observe him or her interacting with adults and playing with other children.
This evaluation typically takes place over the course of multiple office visits for school-aged and even preschool-aged youngsters. Your child may have to take the test at home, at school, or in both settings. During the evaluation, the doctor will keep an eye on your child's social skills and attention span to look for signs of autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The specialist will also evaluate your child's communication abilities, motor skills, attentiveness, and receptiveness to instruction. With this data, the specialist can construct a complete picture of your kid's functional capacity. Your child's need for therapy treatment, intervention, or school placement can be better understood after completing this thorough evaluation.
When treating infants and toddlers, the doctor may want to see how the child acts and performs in his or her natural environment, which may mean visiting the family home. The doctor may want to speak with your child's teachers and see him or her in the classroom if he or she is enrolled in school.
As a child's hearing might have an impact on their ability to communicate verbally, your paediatrician may suggest scheduling an appointment with an audiologist. Otoacoustic emissions, or the small vibrations ordinarily produced by the cochlea in response to sound stimulation, are measured by this doctor during an examination. If a child's ears don't make these vibrations, it could be because of an ear canal obstruction or cochlear injury, both of which lead to hearing loss.
The audiologist may also check for brainstem responses to sound (auditory brainstem response) to determine whether or not hearing aids are necessary. Your child will have painless electrodes attached to his or her scalp for this exam. Hearing loss can be traced back to a dysfunction in the auditory cortex, which can be pinpointed with the aid of electrodes.
The audiologist may suggest a behavioural hearing test called visual response audiometry for children aged nine months to three years. Your kid will sit in a sound booth and listen to a variety of sounds (including conversation and music) during this evaluation. The child is shown a toy in a distant corner of the room while the sound is played. The sound of the toy fades in and out with each play, teaching the youngster to listen for it whenever it is heard. Your child's ability to hear will be evaluated by the audiologist based on how he or she reacts to the noises.
Doctors here utilise more traditional audiometric exams to identify hearing issues in school-aged kids. When a certain sound is made, your kid can be instructed to respond with a hand raise or button press.
The audiologist will be able to recommend you to a specialist who will be able to tell you if your child's hearing loss can be helped by a cochlear implant or other hearing equipment.
Why is developmental screening important?
If a child has a developmental delay and it is not recognised right away, they may have to wait longer to receive the care they need. This may hinder their ability to study after they enter formal education. Young people fare better in the long run if they receive assistance as soon as possible.
Autism, intellectual disability (sometimes known as mental retardation), and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder are just some of the developmental and behavioural issues that affect 17% of American children (ADD or ADHD).
What if my child is delayed in development?
Some children may complete their developmental tasks more quickly than others. Even within the same family, there can be noticeable gaps in development between siblings.
Delays in reaching developmental milestones that are just mild or transitory are not normally cause for concern, but delays that persist or occur more than once may indicate future difficulties.
Delay in reaching developmental milestones in areas such as language, cognition, socialisation, or motor abilities is known as developmental delay.
Causes of developmental delay are not well understood, however they can include genetics, prenatal problems, and premature birth. Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint what exactly went wrong.
Discuss your concerns with your child's paediatrician if you notice any signs of developmental delay. A medical professional should always be consulted if a child is showing signs of developmental delay.
Your child's future growth and development can be supported by therapy and other early treatments that you might prepare for after a diagnosis has been made.
Delayed gross and fine motor skills
A child's ability to make precise motions, such as grasping a toy or using a crayon, is known as fine motor skill. Movements like jumping, climbing stairs, and throwing a ball are examples of gross motor abilities.
Though development occurs at varying rates for each child, the vast majority of toddlers are able to lift their heads by the age of three months, sit up unassisted by six months, and take their first steps well before their second birthday.
Most kids can use a fork and spoon by age 5 and can balance for at least 10 seconds on one foot. A delay in the development of fine or gross motor skills may be present if your kid shows any of the following symptoms:
- floppy or lose trunk and limbs
- stiff arms and legs
- limited movement in arms and legs
- inability to sit without assistance by nine months of age
- involuntary reflexes outnumber voluntary movements
- a one-year-inability old's to bear weight on his legs and stand up
There may be no need for alarm if your child falls beyond the average range, but you should still have him or her checked out.
Speech and language delay
The first three years of life are a crucial period of brain development and maturation for acquiring speech and language, says the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
A baby's first words are typically cries of hunger, which mark the beginning of the development of their linguistic skills. Most babies can understand simple phrases by the time they are six months old.
Infants should be able to utter two or three simple words, even if they aren't completely comprehensible, by the time they are 12 to 15 months old.
By the time they are 18 months old, most toddlers can already utter a few words. Most kids can string together simple sentences by the time they're three.
Delays in both speech and language development are distinct conditions. Making sounds with your voice involves coordinating the muscles in your throat, mouth, and jaw.
When children aren't using as many words as they should be for their age, we call this a speech delay.
When children have trouble either comprehending what is being said to them or expressing themselves in words, we call this a language delay. There are several forms of communication beyond only spoken words, such as sign language, hand gestures, and the written word.
Distinguishing between speech and language delay in early toddlers can be challenging. A kid with an isolated speech delay is able to grasp what is going on around them and communicate their wants and needs by other means, such as pointing or signing.
Hearing loss is a known contributor to language and speech delays, hence it is common practise for doctors to perform hearing tests as part of a comprehensive evaluation. A speech-language pathologist is the professional to whom parents typically turn when their child shows signs of speech or language delay. The benefits of intervening early are significant.
Autism spectrum disorder
Several different neurological developmental disorders fall under the umbrella label "autism spectrum disorder," or ASD. Autistic people may differ from neurotypicals in how they move, think, communicate, and process their senses.
When diagnosing a kid with autism, doctors often look for signs of a lag in cognitive and social development, both of which are typically observed in early life.
At each well visit, your paediatrician will enquire about your child's growth and development. At 18 and 24 months of age, the Australian Pediatric Society advises screening all children using standardised screening methods for autism.
While symptoms may be noticeable as early as a kid's first year, it is very uncommon for them to go undetected until the child is at least two or three years old.
Communication and social difficulties, as well as delays in speech and language development, are common ASD symptoms.
In the same way as the manifestations of autism can take many forms depending on the individual, so too can the experiences of those with the disorder.
Indicators of illness include:
- not responding to their name
- dislike of cuddling and playing with other people
- lack of facial expression
- inability or difficulty speaking, conversing, or remembering words and sentences
- repetitive movements
- development of specific routines
- coordination problems
While there is currently no treatment that will reverse the effects of ASD, therapies and other methods can give your kid greater support in areas such as communication, stress management, and, in some circumstances, everyday task management.
Developmentally delayed children continue to learn just as much as any other child. This may be slower, with them needing more time to gain new abilities and they may learn in somewhat different or alternative methods. A kid with developmental delay might need to be demonstrated skills in smaller, easier phases, instead of learning a skill fast by example. It's possible that they won't be able to easily apply what they've learned in one setting to another. They may benefit from more practise opportunities, preferably in a wide range of real-world circumstances.
FAQs About Developmental Delay
Hereditary or genetic disorders like Down syndrome. Phenylketonuria and other metabolic disorders (PKU) Injuries to the head, like those seen in shaken baby syndrome. Extreme psychological and social distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
In order to begin early intervention, it is crucial that children with developmental delays be identified as early as possible. The term "early intervention" is used to describe programmes that aim to detect and treat delays in child development as soon as possible.
Children with delays in development often struggle with social and emotional development. They may have issues, for instance, in picking up on social cues, making first contact, and maintaining conversations with others. There's a chance they have trouble handling disappointment or adapting to new circumstances.
The good news is that some of these impairments can be avoided by making wise decisions about one's health before and during pregnancy. Your child's delays may be typical, and they may eventually catch up to their age group without any additional help from you.
An individual may experience a temporary, long-term, or permanent developmental delay. A child's slower-than-expected development could be due to a number of factors.
A child's first smile, first words, and first steps are all examples of significant developmental milestones. Your child may be experiencing a developmental delay if they are not keeping up with other children their age in these activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 17% of children ages 3-17 have a developmental disability. It's possible that your child has a developmental delay if he or she is not keeping up with other children his or her age in terms of emotional, intellectual, or physical growth. Early intervention improves a child's chances of making progress or even catching up if he or she is behind in development.
Screenings can tell doctors a lot about whether or not a child is on track to reach their milestones. Your kid will get a full physical examination from the doctor to find out what's wrong. An abnormal pattern of the head, eyes, or skin may be a sign of a genetic disorder that affects mental capacity, such as Down syndrome, microcephaly, or neurofibromatosis. Your child's communication skills, motor abilities, focus and receptivity to instruction will all be assessed by the specialist. During an examination, this doctor measures otoacoustic emissions, which are tiny vibrations typically produced by the cochlea in response to sound stimulation.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between speech and language delay in young toddlers. When a child shows signs of a speech or language delay, their parents typically seek the help of a speech-language pathologist. It's possible that autistic people's motor skills, thought processes, communication styles, and perceptual abilities diverge from those of neurotypicals. A cure for autism has not been discovered, but therapies and other methods can help your child live a more normal life. Children who are delayed in development are able to make progress in their education. They may take longer to develop these skills and use unconventional approaches to learning.
- About 17% of children aged 3-17 have a developmental disability, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- It might be challenging to identify the precise cause of developmental delay because there are so many potential triggers.
- Children with developmental delays who are of school age may qualify for specialised education and support services.
- Signs and symptoms of delay in children can take numerous forms and may vary widely from one child to the next.
- During an exam, your kid's doctor may pose questions to you or engage in conversation and play with the child.
- Screening for developmental delays might help you decide if your kid needs to see a specialist.
- The specialist will also evaluate your child's communication abilities, motor skills, attentiveness, and receptiveness to instruction.
- As a child's hearing might have an impact on their ability to communicate verbally, your paediatrician may suggest scheduling an appointment with an audiologist.
- The audiologist may suggest a behavioural hearing test called visual response audiometry for children aged nine months to three years.
- Your child's ability to hear will be evaluated by the audiologist based on how he or she reacts to the noises.
- The audiologist will be able to recommend you to a specialist who will be able to tell you if your child's hearing loss can be helped by a cochlear implant or other hearing equipment.
- A medical professional should always be consulted if a child is showing signs of developmental delay.
- A child's ability to make precise motions, such as grasping a toy or using a crayon, is known as fine motor skill.
- Delays in both speech and language development are distinct conditions.
- Distinguishing between speech and language delay in early toddlers can be challenging.
- A speech-language pathologist is the professional to whom parents typically turn when their child shows signs of speech or language delay.
- Autism spectrum disorder Several different neurological developmental disorders fall under the umbrella label "autism spectrum disorder," or ASD.
- When diagnosing a kid with autism, doctors often look for signs of a lag in cognitive and social development, both of which are typically observed in early life.
- At each well visit, your paediatrician will enquire about your child's growth and development.
- Communication and social difficulties, as well as delays in speech and language development, are common ASD symptoms.
- Developmentally delayed children continue to learn just as much as any other child.
- This may be slower, with them needing more time to gain new abilities and they may learn in somewhat different or alternative methods.
- A kid with developmental delay might need to be demonstrated skills in smaller, easier phases, instead of learning a skill fast by example.
- They may benefit from more practise opportunities, preferably in a wide range of real-world circumstances.