Definition of Developmental Delay

Written by dee ferguson
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Definition of Developmental Delay

If your child is not sitting up, standing or potty training around the same time as her peers, she may have a developmental delay. Developmental delays can occur due to genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, or from environmental misfortunes, such as when a child is exposed to lead poisoning.

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A developmental delay occurs when a child has not achieved a developmental milestone, such as crawling, walking or talking when expected.


Children may have delays in the development of cognitive, speech/language, social/emotional, and fine and gross motor skills.


Physicians utilise two tools to assess developmental delays in children. One tool is the developmental screening, which can be a questionnaire that a parent completes regarding her child's development. The second tool is the developmental evaluation, which is an in-depth assessment normally administered by a child psychologist.


There are various warning signs to look for when attempting to identify a developmental delay in your child. These include behavioural warning signs, such as staring into space and rocking; gross motor signs, such as stiff limbs; and visual and hearing warning signs, such as when your child tilts her head when looking at an object and when she does not respond when being called from a distance.


Although developmental delays may not be preventable, early detection can ensure early intervention. According to How Kids Develop, "Early intervention helps a child advance in all areas of development. Sometimes if a child has a delay in one area (i.e. speech), it can affect other developmental areas (i.e., social and emotional). Therefore, it is vital that a child receive early intervention as soon as possible."

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