Friday, January 11, 2013

Recognising Developmental delays in your child

While reading about developmental delays I found a useful guide for recognising delays. The link to the article is in the heading
Recognizing Developmental Delays in Your Child: Ages 3 to 5

As you watch your child grow, keep in mind that each child develops at his or her own pace and that the range of normal is quite wide. However, it is helpful to be able to recognize signs of potential developmental delays in one or more areas of emotional, mental, or physical growth.
If you wonder whether your child is experiencing a delay, don't wait to find out. See your child's doctor right away. Early intervention is the best way to help him or her make progress. Unfortunately, fewer than half of all children with developmental delays are identified before starting school.

What Are Developmental Delays in Children?

There are many different types of developmental delays in children. They might have problems in the areas of:
  • Language or speech
  • Movement, or motor skills
  • Emotional and social skills
  • Thinking, or cognitive skills
Here are warning signs for different types of delays that may show up from ages 3 to 5, as well as some of the causes of developmental delays and their potential types of treatment.

Language and Speech Delays in Children
Language and speech problems are the most common type of developmental delay. Speech refers to verbal expression, including the way words are formed. Language is a broader system of expressing and receiving information, such as being able to understand directions.
Possible causes. A wide variety of problems may cause these language and speech delays, including:
  • Exposure to more than one language.
  • A learning disability.
  • Hearing loss: Hearing may change often in children who have recurrent middleear infections.
  • Autism, a disorder that impairs social interaction, or other similar disorders.
Types of treatment. If you or child's doctor suspects a developmental delay, seek an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. This specialist may use speech therapy with your child. The specialist or doctor may also suggest that you:
  • Communicate more with your child; talk, sing, encourage repetition.
  • Read daily to your child.
  • Reinforce speech and language throughout the day.
  • Get treatment for middle ear infections.
Warning signs of speech or language delays
Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of these signs at these ages. In addition to these red flags, watch for any loss of skills already learned.
By 3 years
  • Your child cannot talk in short phrases.
By 4 years
  • Doesn't use sentences of more than three words.
  • Uses "me" and "you" incorrectly.
By 5 years
  • Has trouble understanding two-part commands with prepositions ("under" or "on").
  • Cannot give first and last name.
  • Doesn't use plurals or past tense the right way.
  • Does not talk about daily activities.

Motor Skill Delays in Children

Delays in children may be related to problems with gross motor skills such as playing ball, or fine motor skills, such as coloring.
Possible causes. Children who have been institutionalized, lack stimulation, or have autism, may have what's called "sensory integration dysfunction." This complex disorder can cause a variety of problems with the senses, including:
  • Problems planning and coordinating movement.
  • Fearful reactions to ordinary movements or an excessive need to seek out sensory input, such as by rocking, spinning, or hand-flapping.
  • Extreme reactions to touch, textures, or pain.
These are other possible causes of motor difficulties, although most are rare:
  • Problems with vision.
  • Ataxia, a defect that impairs muscle coordination.
  • Myopathy, a disease of the muscles.

Types of treatment. For motor delays, your child's doctor may suggest taking certain steps at home to encourage more physical activity. Your child may also need:
  • Physical therapy for gross motor delays.
  • Occupational therapy for fine motor delays or sensory integration problems.

Warning signs of motor skill delays
Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of these signs of motor delays at these ages. Remember to also watch for any loss of skills already learned.
By 3 years
  • Your child falls often and may have trouble going up and down stairs.
  • Drools often and has unclear speech.
  • Has trouble working with small objects.
  • Cannot build a tower of more than 4 blocks.
By 4 years
  • Cannot throw a ball overhead.
  • Cannot jump in place.
  • Cannot ride a tricycle.
  • Cannot grasp a crayon between thumb and fingers or has trouble scribbling.
  • Cannot stack four blocks.
By 5 years
  • Cannot build a tower of six to eight blocks.
  • Seems uncomfortable holding a crayon.
  • Has trouble taking off clothing.
  • Cannot brush teeth well.
  • Cannot wash and dry hands.

Social and Emotional Delays in Children

Children may experience problems interacting with adults or other children -- considered social and emotional delays -- which usually show up before school.
Possible causes. Some causes of social and emotional delays include:
  • Neglect, such as from early institutionalization.
  • Ineffective parenting.
  • Weak attachment.
Another common cause of social and emotional delays is called pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). This group of disorders also causes communication problems, ranging from mild to severe. PDD includes:
  • Autism, a complex yet common disorder.
  • Asperger's syndrome, a condition similar to autism.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder, which typically occurs in children ages 3 to 4.
  • Rett's syndrome, which often includes mental retardation and occurs mostly in girls.
Types of treatment. There is no known cure for PDD. However, treatment may include:
  • Medication to help with behavioral problems.
  • Special types of behavioral therapy.
In addition, learning therapeutic parenting skills may help promote healthy attachment, and social and emotional skills, in your child.
Warning signs of social or emotional delays
Contact your child's doctor right away if your child has any of these signs of social and emotional delays at these ages. Make sure to observe any loss of skills already learned.
By 3 years
  • Shows little interest in other children.
  • Has extreme trouble separating from parents or caregivers.
  • Has poor eye contact.
By 4 years
  • Clings or cries whenever parents leave.
  • Ignores other children.
  • Doesn't respond to people outside of the family.
  • Lashes out when angry or upset.
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, or using the toilet.
By 5 years
  • Is very fearful, timid, sad, or aggressive much of the time, or doesn't show a wide range of emotions.
  • Is unable to separate from parents without difficulty.
  • Shows little interest in fantasy play or playing with other children.

Cognitive Delays in Children

Problems with thinking and cognitive skills may occur due to genetic defects, environmental factors, disease, prematurity, nervous system abnormalities, oxygen deprivation during childbirth, and even accidents. 
Possible causes. Common causes of cognitive delays include:
  • A poor learning environment.
  • Institutionalization or neglect during infancy or early childhood.
  • A wide range of learning disabilities.
  • Exposure to alcohol or toxins during pregnancy.
  • One of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs), such as autism.
Types of treatment. As with most types of delays, early intervention for cognitive delays can make a big difference in the progress your child makes. Depending upon the diagnosis, treatment may include:
  • Medication in rare cases.
  • Play therapy or occupational therapy.
  • Special education.
Warning signs of cognitive delays
Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of these signs of cognitive delays at these ages:
By 3 years
  • Trouble copying a circle.
  • Cannot understand simple instructions.
  • Does not become involved in "pretend" or "make-believe" play.
  • Shows limited interest in toys.
By 4 years
  • Shows no interest in interactive games.
  • Doesn't become involved in fantasy play.
  • Cannot copy a circle.
By 5 years
  • Is easily distracted.
  • Is unable to concentrate on a single activity for more than five minutes.
Remember: There is a wide range of normal development in children. Most developmental delays in children are not serious, and most children can eventually catch up. Even children who do have serious delays can make big improvements -- when treatment begins as early as possible.


  1. I'm so sorry, what a horrible day! I work independently and often find myself picking up the pieces of a ridiculous situation which makes me really sad. I work alongside an OT and a counsellor which makes my job easier with children/young adults with SM.
    Have you seen Micheal Jones' work He's is brilliant. I also love Maggie Johnson who is the leading SLT in the UK (I don't know where you are.
    Good luck and I'll look forwards to updates!

  2. Thanks.. hoping it will get easier. Yes I love Michael Jones he has been helpful for me and I also have many of Maggie Johnson's books they are great for education. Keep reading!

  3. hi I am hopping to learn more about SM. I was wondering that having a child who only speaks at home but wont speak at school, yet has poor gross motor skills but is otherwise achieving well in all subjects. I just wondered if the problems with gross motor skills is linked to the SM.