Developmental delay is defined as the condition in which the development of the baby or child is slower than normal. A child with a development delay functions at a level below children of the same chronological age.
The federal definition of developmental disabilities includes persons whose disability occurs before age 22 and includes a mental or physical impairment or a combination of both. There must be a substantial limitation in three or more of these major life areas including:
- expressive or receptive language
- capacity of independent living
- economic or self-sufficiency
Developmental disabilities effect approximately 2 percent of the population. Frequently, people with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder or various genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome are described as having a developmental disability. There are many physical, environmental and social causes of developmental disabilities. Common factors causing development disabilities include:
- brain injury or infection before, during or shortly after birth
- growth or nutrition problems
- poor diet and health care
- drug use during pregnancy, including smoking and alcohol intake
- diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder
Diagnosing Developmental Delays
It is important to get immediate services if you suspect your child has a developmental delay! Do not wait. A complete diagnostic evaluation including cognition, speech and language, adaptive behavior and motor abilities is needed.
Treatment & Therapy
An appropriate school and therapy setting is important for children who have developmental disabilities. Students with developmental disabilities often need a structured, intensive school environment to progress effectively.
Therapy services are vital to assist students with development of specific skills. Physical therapy helps improve delays in coordination and motor skills. Speech and language therapy can help improve communication, play and feeding skills for children with developmental delays. Occupational therapy addresses fine motor skills and sensory processing (learning from the five senses in a more meaningful way – sight, sound, hearing, touch and smell).
Other Related Links:
Arkansas Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council