Developmental delay is a broad term used to describe when a toddler or infant’s development is delayed in one or more areas compared to other children.
These different areas of development may include:
- gross motor development (how children move)
- fine motor development (how children manipulate objects and use their hands)
- speech and language development (how children communicate, understand and use language)
- cognitive/intellectual development: how children understand, think and learn
- social and emotional development: how children relate with others and develop increasing independence.
Parents may become aware of delay when the child does not achieve milestones at the expected age.
Transient developmental delay is common in premature babies. Premature babies may show a delay in the area of sitting, crawling and walking. Early physiotherapy will help to attain milestones so the child can progress on at a normal rate.
Disorders which cause persistent developmental delay are often termed developmental disabilities. Examples are cerebral palsy, muscle disorders, language disorders, autism, emotional problems and disorders of vision and hearing. All these conditions can cause developmental delay.
Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a spectrum of issues that affect a child’s ability to acquire or perform skilled movements. Children with difficulty coordinating movement can have subsequent trouble with many tasks required routinely in school/ preschool.
If not treated early children with DCD can develop avoidance behaviours or fail to participate, leading to a cycle of inactivity, frustration and low self-esteem. In Australia as many as one in ten children experience these issues. Accurate diagnosis of DCD enables the Physiotherapist to employ strategies that will aid in the healthy physical and mental development of these children.
Is your child achieving the appropriate developmental milestones for their age?
- Rolling at 4 months
- Sitting at 6 months
- Crawling at 9 months
- Pulling to Stand 10 months
- Walking at 12 months
There are many factors that may delay your child’s development including the personality of your child, premature birth, neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. The aim of the physiotherapist is to identify any issues that may be causing these delays. Physiotherapy sessions are based on each infants needs and are integrated into family life for a realistic outcome.
The following conditions relate to infants not achieving milestones. If diagnosed early these conditions have dramatic improvement with physiotherapy interventions.