What is Developmental Delay?

To understand what is Developmental Delay, it is important to understand what is Development first.

As the toddler grows he is expected to perform certain actions/behaviours at different age of growth. The actions or growth is recognised by the adults around the baby. Examples are turning over on to the stomach, sitting, standing, gripping, smiling etc. When each of these actions are performed we say that the child has hit a Developmental Milestone. There are five broad areas of Development that every child goes through. They are:

Gross motor development: This indicates the movement of children

Fine motor development: This indicates how children use their fingers, palm and hand to manipulate objects.

Speech and language development: This refers to how children use words, sentences, language in general to communicate with people around them.

Cognitive/Intellectual Development: This refers to the ability of children to think and learn things appropriate to their age.

Social and emotional development: This refers to how children relate to other people around them, understand the social nuances of interacting with other people, recognise what belongs to the themselves and what belongs to others, etc.

Parents and other care givers will notice how the child is progressing on each of the development expected at different age. When they notice that the child is not performing an action (like sitting, holding, gripping etc) at a certain age, then it is called a Developmental Delay. There has been a delay in expected development. Until the delay is analysed and the cause found, it is termed as developmental delay.

Transient Delay: Some babies which have had premature birth may show delay in their development but may catch on as they grow and the delay vanishes with time. Other times a child can have a developmental delay due to illness or some physical health issues. The delay can also occur due to lack of opportunities for the child to learn.

Persistent Delay: If the delay persists over a period of time, then it is called Persistent Delay. This needs that the child should be taken to a professional and assessed for the delay. The earlier the parent takes the child on noticing the developmental delay, the greater are the chances that the cause for the delay can be addressed and corrected.