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Developmental Delay 

Developmental Delay

Babies and children acquire skills (developmental milestones) in different areas of development in a predictable sequence. When children do not reach the expected milestones, they may have Developmental Delay. There is a wide age range of normal child development.


Developmental delay can present as:

  • Lagging behind other children in gross or fine motor, language, social or thinking skills

  • Hearing loss and or vision problems

  • Continued infant-like behaviour

  • Problems with sleep, attention or aggression

  • Difficulty in controlling and coordinating movement

  • Problems with posture, balance or coordination

  • Academically behind other children



Many factors are associated with increased risk of developmental delay including: 

  • Prematurity

  • Birth complications 

  • Infections 

  • Genetic characteristics 

  • Exposure to toxins 

  • Trauma 

  • Syndromes

When To Seek Medical Opinion

Seek medical opinion if:​

Motor skills

  • Loss of acquired motor skill e.g. unable to walk after established walking

  • Unable to hold objects placed in hand by 5 months

  • Unable to reach for objects by 6 months

  • Not able to sit unsupported by 12 months

  • Unable to walk by 18 months or run by 2.5 years

  • Unable to point at objects to share interest with others by 2 years



  • No speech by 18 months, especially if it is not compensated by communication using other means e.g. gestures

  • Loss of acquired speech once established



  • Concerns about your child’s ability to fix and follow

  • Development of squint

  • Unable to give eye contact

  • Unusual eye movements



  • Hearing loss - either at birth or later (be mindful that not all congenital hearing loss is present at birth)



  • Noticeably small or large head size or significant changes (drop or gain of two lines in your child’s red book) in the head circumference .



  • Concerns regarding your child’ s development raised by another clinician e.g. health visitor or GP

  • Developmental screening questionnaire suggests that your child may be delayed

  • As a parent you feel something is not right


Treatment for developmental disabilities is based on the presentation. Early intervention promotes a more holistic development.

The needs of the child or young person need to be recognised and interventions offered for a more holistic development.

Recommendations can be made for special education services and specialised treatment programs.

The range of treatment options apart from a paediatric intervention include:

  • Speech therapy

  • Occupational therapy

  • Physiotherapy

  • Life and social skills training

  • Behavioural therapy

  • Medication

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