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What Is a Developmental Delay?

A developmental delay occurs when a child does not reach a developmental milestone at the usual age. These delays could be physical or mental and could include delays in speaking, walking, participating in social play and many more. While some developmental delays are nothing to be concerned about and resolve in very little time, other delays require medical intervention and should be discussed at the child’s next pediatrics appointment. A pediatrician will be able to either set the parent’s mind at rest or recommend a course of treatment that can set the child up for later success.

Developmental delays can occur in only one area or may occur in several areas at once; this is known as the global developmental delay. Global delays often occur because of genetic problems, fetal alcohol syndrome or severe health problems due to premature birth. Most developmental delays appear in the child within the first two years of his or her life. A pediatrician question parents at each well-child checkup to learn exactly how the child is progressing mentally and physically and whether there is any concern for the child’s development.

Be Aware of Symptoms of Development Delay

The most common type of developmental delay is a problem with speech. While this problem could be caused by hearing loss, autism or another physical issue, health care professionals often find no cause. Treatment with a speech therapist should occur for children over the age of two who cannot say more than 15 words and who cannot say two-word phrases. Speech therapists can be found in many hospital and clinic systems. In addition, numerous school districts offer free services for qualified individuals in their district.

Other developmental delays include visual problems requiring glasses or surgery, motor skill issues that prevent the child from crawling or walking, cognitive delays that produce learning disabilities and social delays that prevent the child from properly interacting with peers or adults.

Dr. Matney understands that it can be stressful for parents to consider that their child may be developmentally delayed. However, the best success comes when the delay is treated early, giving children more success as they continue to grow. Untreated developmental delays can lead to larger future problems, such as an inability to succeed in school or peer groups or physical problems that require surgeries to correct. Parents who question whether their children are developing properly are encouraged to contact Dr. Matney.