Recognizing Developmental Delays in Children


A developmental delay is an ongoing major or minor delay in a child’s development process, causing the child to face difficulties in reaching certain developmental milestones.

Most of the development delays can be treated with early intervention. Early intervention is a set of targeted services designed specifically by understanding children’s specific needs while utilizing evidence-based practice. It can make a world of difference in your child’s developmental progress.

Through this blog, you’ll learn

  • What are development delays and what causes them

  • Possible areas where developmental delays can occur

  • Risk factors of developmental delays

What is Developmental Delay?

Developmental delay is a broader phenomenon than just lagging behind being able to perform a certain task. It is the inability to perform basic activities that children of certain age groups are typically able to do. Developmental delays can be diagnosed by observing how your child communicates, moves, learns and behaves with others. Global developmental delay is when it affects a multitude of developmental areas.

We often hear people make sweeping statements such as: “children should crawl between the age of 6 - 10 months,” “children should take their first steps when they are 9 - 12 months old.” However, it is important that parents understand that each child develops at his/her own pace.

Early intervention can help you assert the mental condition of your child. It is essentially a set of targeted services designed specifically to understand and address a child’s specific needs. It can make a world of difference in minimizing your child’s developmental delays.

What Causes Developmental Delays?

Though the specific cause for developmental delays is unknown, there are a few factors that could trigger developmental disorders in children, such as genetics, complexities during pregnancy, etc. The positive aspect of development delays is that a few causes can be reversed if observed early on.

Risk Factors of Developmental Delays

Environmental Issues:

  • Exposure to harmful agents like lead

  • Infections

  • Severe poverty

  • Poor nutrition

  • Lack of care

Birth Complications:

  • Being born prematurely

  • Low birth weight

  • Inadequate levels of oxygen to the brain at birth

How you can recognize developmental delays in children

As a parent, here are a few areas that you will have to watch out for:

Cognitive Skills

How your child perceives and explains what’s happening around him determines his thinking ability. As you cannot expect your child to understand things happening around them accurately, you can observe their thinking process. You can do this by observing how your child gauges his/her surroundings, using their eyes, ears, and hands. For toddlers, observe if they are able to learn new things.

Social and Emotional Skills

Emotional skills in babies include smiling at others, making sounds, etc. Your toddler should be able to communicate with his/her actions. He/she should be able to relate to people around him/her. Observe how your child expresses his/her thoughts, how he/she talks, and how he/she is able to get along with others.

Speech and Language Skills

The sweetest thing about babies is their cooing and babbling. These sounds are generally used by toddlers to communicate with their mothers. In older children, we can expect improved speech and language delivery.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills assist in hand-eye coordination (i.e. the objective is to make sure the brain, the nervous system and muscles work in tandem). If there is a lack of synchrony between hands and vision, they might face difficulty accomplishing simple tasks.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills help a child sit, walk or roll over. Children who lack gross motor skills appear clumsy and uncoordinated. They might not like taking the stairs as they face difficulty in doing so. Their muscle tone may be high or low and may find it hard to find coordination between the right and the left side of the body.

Everyday Activities

Your child should be able to manage his/her everyday activities like washroom manners, eating, dressing up, etc.

For more information regarding developmental disorders, please contact Stepping Stones Center. We emphasize acquiring new and appropriate behaviors, while also working on helping the child achieve developmentally age appropriate milestones through evidence-based practices.

#AutismSpectrum #AutismResearch #development #Developmentaldelay #autismdiet #EmotionalDisorder

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