Early Intervention

How to Help a Child with Developmental Delay

As a child grows, it is understood that there are developmental milestones they should be achieving—from the age they should be crawling, talking, walking, etc.  In cases where a child is not meeting the appropriate developmental milestones, it may be necessary to speak with your child’s doctor who may recommend an evaluation for a developmental delay.

What is a developmental delay?

A developmental delay is when a child is not reaching his or her developmental milestones—whether mental, emotional or physical—that signals a child is not developing at the same rate of growth as peers their age. Please read below for the four types of developmental delays.

4 Types of developmental delays

Because a developmental delay can appear in many different aspects of a child’s development, it is important to understand the usual types of delays that may appear. There are four main categories of developmental delays.

  1. Social or Emotional Delays
    There are many reasons that a child might experience social, behavioral, and/or emotional delays. This can impact their ability to communicate, relate, and interact with others. This may appear as frustration, inappropriate behavior, and/or extended temper tantrums.
  2. Speech Delays
    A child with a speech delay may have a difficult time understanding words, expressing wants and needs to others, and following directions. Some speech delays may be physical or physiological such as hearing loss. It is important to have the child  evaluated as soon as possible.
  3. Cognitive Delays
    There can be several reasons a child may experience a cognitive delay. Some of these include difficulty with comprehension of basic concepts, problem solving, and following simple instructions. These delays typically are revealed once the child starts preschool or school, where more structured learning is taking place.
  4. Motor Delays
    A child with gross and fine motor delays have difficulty completing tasks such as crawling, walking, grasping objects, and stacking blocks. These delays can be caused by medical conditions such as low tone, vision, and prematurity. Please speak with your child’s doctor regarding an evaluation.

Types of therapies for developmental delays

There are a number of therapies available for children with developmental delays listed below.

Behavioral Therapy – to help better understand social norms and better appropriate behaviors.
Speech and Language Therapy – for producing language sounds and understanding speech.
Occupational Therapy (OT) – for self-help, independence, and fine motor skills.
Physical Therapy (PT) – for help in gross motor skills.

Can a child with developmental delays catch up?

While developmental delays can seem overwhelming, parents should realize that often times—with early intervention and focused therapy—they can also catch up. In these cases, having a central plan of action where all necessary medical professionals, service providers and therapists can stay informed and on the same page is extremely valuable to making significant progress.

What to do if you suspect your child has a delay?

If you suspect your child has a delay, you should first talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. Usually, they will be able to analyze your child’s progress over time to make a determination. However, if you do not have a pediatrician, it is important to know that you can make a referral yourself to BabyNet, a program managed through the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in order to gain access to early intervention programs that may be available to you and your child.

If you have questions about developmental delays or early intervention programs and services, please reach out to us. We at Above & Beyond are always happy to help.