What is a Developmental Delay?
All children develop differently. Two children who are born on the same day may achieve a gross motor skill such as rolling, sitting, crawling, or walking months apart. A developmental delay refers to a child not reaching their developmental milestones at or around the expected times.
Delays can be in a number of different areas: gross motor (crawling, walking), fine motor (holding their bottle, picking up cheerios), speech (making sounds or understanding when they are spoken to), social, and cognitive.
Developmental delays may be caused by complications during pregnancy or birth, due to genetic reasons, due to hearing loss or excessive ear infections, and sometimes the reason is unknown. Premature babies born weighing less than 1500 grams or 3 ½ pounds have been found to be two times more likely to have developmental delays.
Parents are often the first ones to notice that their child is not doing what their friend’s children or their older siblings were doing at a certain age. They then often bring it to the attention of their pediatrician. Some pediatricians will take a “wait and see approach” and others will recommend that the child get a developmental evaluation or screening. This can be performed by a developmental pediatrician or by a therapy team of physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, educators, and psychologists.
Treatment is physical and/or occupational therapy with a therapist who specializes in pediatric therapy.
Other helpful references for information on Developmental Delays include: Developmental Delay Resources, Zero to Three, My Child Without Limits, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.