Developmental delay refers to a condition when a child fails to meet a common milestone. In simpler words, when very young children show less progress in moving, talking and playing as compared to the other children. This medical condition is specific for toddlers and preschoolers only. Parents become worried when their child is unable to sit independently even after 10 months. But there is no need to worry, this condition can be treated with the help of physical therapy. Developmental delay is pretty common considering about 10% of toddlers in the United States suffer from it.
Signs and Symptoms of Development Delay
The most common sign of developmental delay is when a child does not meet a common milestone at the proper time. For example,
- Control on the movement of head by 4 months
- Sitting up by 6 months
- Being able to walk by 12 months
The delay of any of the above mentioned motor skills is a sure sign of developmental delay. In addition, if the child does not play, jump, run or skip with other children and generally fails to keep up with his or her peers, then developmental delay is a reasonable conclusion. In some special cases, the child is diagnoses with Down’s Syndrome early on.
Diagnosis of Developmental Delay
Parents are often the first people who notice that their child is progressing slowly as compared to other children of his age. They can request the pediatrician at the daycare center to determine if the child is really progressing slowly and if this is true, then it is recommend that parents consult a professional therapist who specializes in children. The physical therapist will perform some basic screening test initially and in-depth analysis of motor skills delay later on to determine exactly how late are the motor skills of the child.
Treatment of Developmental Delay
If it’s not due to Down’s Syndrome, then developmental delays can be treated with physical therapy. A physical therapist who specializes in children will be assigned to your child but the parents will also have to actively participate in the treatment of their child.
Firstly, the physical therapist will evaluate the exact strength and weakness of your child and determine, which motor skills the child is having difficulty learning. Then, the therapist will manually guide the movements of the child or help him learn a new way to move. Physical therapist will also educate the family members on how to help the child so that even when the therapist is not around to guide the child, parents can oversee this task.
Prevention of Developmental Delay
Experts are not sure if the developmental delay of motor skills can be prevented in children because it occurs at such a young age. However, it is recommended that parents do not restrict the movement of their children and encourage them to play on the floor in different positions. This will allow the child to explore their environment and learn to navigate through it using new and different movements.