Developmental Delay

What is developmental delay?

Developmental delay (DD) is the term given to a child who fails to meet key developmental milestones and falls behind the expected progression in areas of development compared to their peers. The term global developmental delay (GDD) may be used to describe a child who has delays in two or more key areas of development.

Developmental delay is one of the most common reasons for referral to a paediatric specialist. Although exact figures are not known it is estimated that between 1-3% of children under the age of five are affected. Causes of developmental delay may be unknown or associated with genetic and/or environmental factors. Some children who are originally described as being developmentally delayed may later go on to be diagnosed as having a rarer condition such as Fragile X.


Children with developmental delay

Premature babies of low birth weight are more likely to show developmental delays as are those with other medical conditions. However it is important to stress many children will have no known cause. Developmental delay is usually noted in children of pre-school age or younger. The first signs tend to be a notable lack of development of key milestones such as being slow in learning to sit independently, babble, crawl and walk. However not all ‘delays’ are significant as all children are individuals and will learn at their own rate.

Children who show a delay in two or more of the key developmental areas may be referred to as having global developmental delay (GDD); although most children with global developmental delay will show reduced abilities in all areas of their development.

Children with developmental delay require greater input from their parents and professionals; early intervention is recognised as a key treatment to assist them in reaching key milestones and achieving their full potential.


Treatment of developmental delay

Treatment for developmental delay first begins with its causal factor (if known) which may be medically addressed by a paediatrician. As part of the process of aiding physical and cognitive development professionals in the field of child development, such as physio-, occupational- , speech and language and educational therapists are vital for providing early intervention and support.

As each child is an individual the long-term outcome of a child recognised as having developmental delay will vary greatly. Some will go on to bridge the gap between themselves and their peers and will not require any lasting support. However, others may require a much greater level of care and attention. Our aim at Brainwave is to identify the needs of the individual child and design a bespoke programme to meet those needs and help the child to reach their full potential.

Children with developmental delay will be developing at a lower level than their peers and may also show differences associated with varying muscle tone and multi-sensory impairments. We aim to work with the child to support all their needs.

During an initial assessment, which takes place over 2 days, your child can be seen by a team of physiotherapists, educational therapists and depending on which centre they attend, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists, who will assess your child’s specific needs and design an exercise programme which will embrace all relevant areas of developmental progress, whether visual cognition, hearing and comprehension, movement, speech, hand function, daily living activities and socialisation skills.

The therapy team will ensure parents are confident to carry out the manageable and structured daily programme at home. Families are invited to return to the centre every 4-6 months so that progress can be monitored and programmes altered accordingly. Our aim is that each child should achieve their maximum potential. Please click here to find out more.