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Developmental Delays in Children

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Developmental delay is a condition where children fail to acquire the skills appropriate for their respective ages. The delay can be obvious in some children, while it may be minimal in others. Children identified as delayed tend to develop at a slower rate than typical children at the same age level. This may be evident in a single area of development or in multiple areas as following:

  • Cognitive skills
  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Sensory (including vision and hearing)
  • Language and speech
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Adaptive development

Common reasons why a child might be developmentally delayed are:

  • Premature Birth and complications of pregnancy
  • Insufficient Brain cell development
  • Genetic causes like down syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (caused by mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy)
  • Damage to brain cells during birth

It is not uncommon for development delay to co – exist with another disorder, such as:

  • Sensory impairment – Vision or hearing problems
  • Medical /health conditions
  • Genetic disorders (down Syndrome)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder

How Developmental delays are diagnosed or detected
A pediatrician should screen for delays in their development during regular examinations. This may consist of simple questions about what a child is able to do or may include a formal screening test.

Common characteristics, which may be apparent in a child with developmental delay, include:

• Difficulty remaining on-task and with task-completion
• Difficulty in understanding concepts
• Delays in expressive and/or receptive language development
• Problems organizing and/or remembering information
• Difficulty during unstructured activities

Parents can seek help if their child is suspected to have developmental delay. Following are different professionals based on different conditions are qualified to assess and diagnos:

–       Pediatrician
–       Psychiatrist/ Child Psychologist
–       Neurologist
–       Geneticist
–       Occupational therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech- Language Pathologists, and family support professionals.

Parents can also help their child with Developmental Delay by

(1) Arranging assessment for the child as early as possible
(2) Participating in the child’s training services as much  as possible and maintaining communication with the instructors
(3) Identify the child’s strengths to enhance self-confidence.
(4) Share feelings with others to relieve negative emotions.
(5) Join parent self-help groups and make good use of community services. Work with schools as team and get support.

Instruction for children with developmental delay should reflect the goals identified and mutually agreed upon by the educators, specialists and of course the family. The learning objectives should include the child’s strengths as the foundation. They should be aimed at bridging the gap between what the child is currently able to do in his or her environment and what he or she needs to learn to do in order to be optimally successful in the current or upcoming environments.

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