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************************ Global Developmental Delay
Babies and children usually learn important skills such as sitting up, rolling over, crawling, walking, babbling (making basic speech sounds), talking and becoming toilet trained as they grow up. These skills are known as developmental milestones and happen in a predictable order and usually at a fairly predictable age. While all children reach these stages at different times, a child with developmental delay may not reach one or more of these milestones until much later than expected.
A child may be described as having global developmental delay (GDD) if they have not reached two or more milestones in all areas of development (called developmental domains). These areas are:
motor skills – either gross motor skills like sitting up or rolling over and fine motor skills, for example picking up small objects
speech and language – which also includes babbling, imitating speech and identifying sounds, as well as understanding what other people are trying to communicate to them
cognitive skills – the ability to learn new things, process information, organise their thoughts and remember things
social and emotional skills – interacting with others and development of personal traits and feelings, as well as starting to understanding and respond to the needs and feelings of others.
Causes of Developmental Delay
The causes of developmental delay can be separated into four categories:
Complications during pregnancy and birth
Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD)
Genetic factors, such as genetic abnormalities, can cause developmental delays. Genetic factors include Williams syndrome, Prader-Willi, and Down syndrome.
Complications during pregnancy and birth can lead to developmental delays. For example, having a baby prematurely can cause delays in the baby’s development. Other examples include infection (i.e. if the mother has chlamydia and passes it to the baby during birth), prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol (including prescription or over the counter drugs), poor diet during pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, and trauma experienced during birth.
There are several factors within a child’s environment that can lead to developmental delays. One major factor is child abuse or neglect. For example, a child who is being abused may have a brain injury as a result of the abuse, which can in turn cause social and emotional developmental delays. Brain trauma, toxins in the environment (i.e., lead found in paints), hearing loss, emotional neglect, and malnutrition are all environmental factors that can cause developmental delays.
PDD is a group of psychological disorders that produce delays in the development of many areas. The disorders include:
What follows are warning signs for different types of delays that may show up from infancy to age 2. You will also learn about some of the causes of developmental delays and potential treatments.
Language and Speech Developmental Delays in Children
Speech delays in toddlers are common. In fact, 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 gestures.
Possible causes. A variety of problems may cause language and speech delays, including:
exposure to more than one language – which can cause mild delays in toddlers but not delays by the time they reach school age
a learning disability
a problem with the muscles controlling speech — a disorder called dysarthria
hearing loss, which may occur in children who have severe middle ear infections or occur as a result of certain medications, trauma, or genetic disorders
autism spectrum disorders — a group of neurological disorders that may involve impaired communication as well as impaired social interaction and cognitive skills
no cause can be found
Types of treatment. If you or your child’s doctor suspects a speech delay problem, seek an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. This specialist may test your child’s hearing and use speech therapy with your child. The specialist or doctor may also suggest that you:
communicate more with your child — talk, sing, and encourage repetition
Warning signs of speech or language delays. Contact your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following signs at the age that’s indicated. In addition, watch for any loss of skills that have already been learned.
By 3 to 4 months, contact the doctor if your child:
does not respond to loud noises
does not babble
begins babbling but does not try to imitate sounds (by 4 months)
By 7 months, contact the doctor if your child:
does not respond to sounds
By 1 year, contact the doctor if your child:
does not use any single words (like “mama”)
By 2 years, contact the doctor if your child:
cannot speak at least 15 words
does not use two-word phrases without repetition; can only imitate speech
does not use speech to communicate more than immediate needs
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