What Are Developmental Delays or Disorders?
Describing a child’s physical, behavioral, language or learning development, developmental delays or disorders affect approximately 15 percent of children in the United States ages 3 to 17. In some cases, the delays can be overcome, though most are present throughout life.
Because there is such a wide range of possible developmental delays, there is no single cause. The root of many developmental disorders is unknown, therefore making prevention more difficult. Some causes include:
- Complications of pregnancy and childbirth
- Family history of developmental delays
- Genetic causes
Diagnosing developmental delays or disorders relies on parents noticing children missing key milestones and following up with their pediatricians. Missing these milestones may indicate a developmental delay:
- 1 year — Baby plays peek-a-boo, shakes head or waves goodbye, mimics speech and gestures, bangs objects against one another and gets in a seated position without assistance.
- 2 years — Toddler becomes more independent and engaged, speaks in short sentences, can identify and sort colors or shapes, and can kick a ball and throw it overhand.
- 5 years — Child speaks clearly, counts to 10 or higher, tries to be like and please friends, and can complete a somersault.
No two children with developmental delays are the same and neither is the treatment of such disorders. Depending on the condition, prescribed treatment may include:
- Therapy — Speech, physical, behavioral and occupational therapists can help minimize the effects of any specific disorder.
- Devices — To help with hearing, vision or balance deficiencies. Glasses, hearing aids or crutches may be prescribed.
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