What are Developmental Delays?
A developmental delay occurs when your child is delayed in achieving one or more of his or her milestones. This may affect speech and language, fine and gross motor skills, and/or personal and social skills.
About 4.5 million people in the United States have developmental disabilities, which are defined as severe, life-long disabilities attributed to mental and/or physical impairments and manifested before age 22.
Developmental disabilities result in substantial limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activities:
- The ability to live independently
- The ability to achieve economic self-sufficiency
- The ability to learn
- The ability to be mobile
- The ability to understand and express language
- The ability to care for one’s self
- The ability to accomplish self-direction
Without the right services and supports, the choices open to your child—including where he or she will live, play, and eventually work—are few.
He or she will be isolated rather than fully integrated and included in the mainstream of society. However, with individually planned and coordinated services and supports (for example, those involving health care, education, housing, employment, and civil and human rights protection) from many providers in the community, you can ensure the highest quality of life possible for your child and your family.
Making a call to First Step is the best possible step you can take in that direction.
Here are some of the most common conditions involving developmental delays and disabilities:
[accordion][item title=”Spina Bifida” inner_title=”Spinal Column Not Closing Completely”]Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect that happens in the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column doesn’t close completely.
Sixty million women are at risk of having a baby born with spina bifida, and every day, on average, eight babies are affected by this or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine. Each year, about 3,000 pregnancies are affected by these birth defects. The effects of spina bifida are different for every person.
Up to 90 percent of children with the worst form have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) and must have surgery to insert a shunt that helps drain the fluid—the shunt stays in place for the lifetime of the person. Other conditions include full or partial paralysis, bladder and bowel control difficulties, learning disabilities, depression, latex allergy and social and sexual issues.
Read more about Spina Bifida from the Spina Bifida Association.
[item title=”Cerebral Palsy” inner_title=”Affect Body Movement and Muscle Coordination”]Cerebral Palsy describes a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy. Thus, these disorders are not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain disrupts the brain’s ability to adequately control movement and posture.
“Cerebral” refers to the brain and “Palsy” to muscle weakness/poor control. Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive (i.e., brain damage does not get worse); however, secondary conditions, such as muscle spasticity, can develop that may get better over time, get worse, or remain the same. Cerebral Palsy is not communicable.
Cerebral Palsy is not a disease and should not be referred to as such. Although cerebral palsy is not “curable” in the accepted sense, training and therapy can help improve function.
Click for more information about Cerebral Palsy and causes of Cerebral Palsy.
[item title=”Down Syndrome” inner_title=”Caused by an Error in Cell Division”]Down Syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division called non-disjunction.
However, two other types of chromosomal abnormalities, mosaicism and translocation, are also implicated in Down Syndrome—although to a much lesser extent. Regardless of the type of Down Syndrome a person may have, all people with Down Syndrome have an extra, critical portion of the number 21 chromosome present in all, or some, of their cells.
This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down Syndrome.
You can find out more about Down Syndrome at the National Down Syndrome Society.
[item title=”Autism” inner_title=”Complex Developmental Disability”]Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life.
The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with Autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
Autism is one of five disorders under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development,” including social interaction and communications skills (DSM-IV-TR).
The five disorders under PDD are Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Rett’s Disorder, and PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Each of these disorders has specific diagnostic criteria as outlined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in its Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).
Find out more about Autism at the Autism Society of America.
[item title=”Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)” inner_title=”Birth Defects Caused by Alcohol”]Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a set of physical and mental birth defects that can result when a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy.
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol such as beer, wine, or mixed drinks, so does her baby. Alcohol passes through the placenta right into the developing baby. The baby may suffer lifelong damage as a result.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is characterized by brain damage, facial deformities, and growth deficits. Heart, liver, and kidney defects also are common, as well as vision and hearing problems. Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have difficulties with learning, attention, memory, and problem solving.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. The term Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders is not intended for use as a clinical diagnosis.
Click here to find out more information about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
[item title=”Failure to Thrive” inner_title=”A Difficult Condition to Define”]Although it’s been recognized for more than a century, Failure to Thrive lacks a precise definition, in part because it describes a condition rather than a specific disease. Children who Fail to Thrive don’t receive or are unable to take in, retain, or utilize the calories needed to gain weight and grow as expected.
Most diagnoses of Failure to Thrive are made in infants and toddlers—in the first few years of life—a crucial period of physical and mental development. After birth, a child’s brain grows as much in the first year as it will during the rest of the child’s life. Poor nutrition during this period can have permanent negative effects on a child’s mental development.
Whereas the average term baby doubles his or her birth weight by four months and triples it at one year, children with Failure to Thrive often don’t meet those milestones. Sometimes, a child who starts out “plump” and who shows signs of growing well can begin to fall off in weight gain. After a while, linear (height) growth may slow as well.
If the Failure to Thrive condition progresses, the undernourished child may:
- become disinterested in his or her surroundings
- avoid eye contact
- become irritable
- not reach developmental milestones like sitting up, walking, and talking at the usual age
Find out more information about Failure to Thrive on the Kids Health website.
[item title=”Developmental Disabilities” inner_title=”List of Delays and Disabilities”]
List of delays and disabilities:
A developmental delay occurs when your child has the delayed achievement of one or more of his/her milestones. This may affect your child’s speech and language, his/her fine and gross motor skills, and/or his personal and social skills.
What is Developmental Disability? There are approximately 4.5 million individuals with developmental disabilities in the United States. Developmental disabilities (DD) are severe, life-long disabilities attributable to mental and/or physical impairments, manifested before age 22. Developmental disabilities result in substantial limitations in three or more areas of major life activities:
- capacity for independent living
- economic self-sufficiency
- receptive and expressive language