Developmental delays may show as a child who cannot walk, talk, read, understand, or take care of himself at the age he is supposed to. They are one of the most common problems of childhood and adolescence worldwide. The most common handicaps are those involving speaking and communicating. Other developmental problems are cerebral palsy, attention/deficit hyperactivity disorder and intellectual disabilities. The rest include learning disabilities, social-emotional disorders, hearing impairment, visual impairment and autism spectrum disorders.

What causes developmental problems?

Events that occur while your baby is in the womb can cause delayed development. An example is when you fall seriously ill while pregnant. In addition, if your child’s birth is prolonged and complicated, he may have delayed development. Drinking alcohol while pregnant is another cause. Prematurity and low birth weight are other causes of delayed development.

Infections, malnutrition, and head injury are some of the causes of delayed development that can occur after birth. Down syndrome, Fragile X and other trisomies too. Severe newborn jaundice can also do this. Sometimes, problems with hormones, like low thyroid hormone levels, are the cause. In many cases too, disabilities just happen. No cause!

How can you tell if your child has a developmental problem?

The most common handicaps are very subtle. Many such children may be wrongly called difficult, disruptive or disrespectful children. They are at risk of abuse. Sometimes too, it is easy to tell that a child is not achieving his milestones as expected.

Do not compare your child with another. Every child is unique, with different strengths. However, children rarely outgrow disabilities without treatment. So if you are worried that your child is not developing typically, speak to your child’s doctor. This is because a lot of treatments are more successful when started early.

If your child has a developmental problem, what should you do?

Dealing with a child who is not developing typically is hard. You may need to make several visits to hospital for therapy. Dealing with the stigma that comes with having a child with special needs can be most hurtful. Be patient. Seek early and correct intervention. Love your child. Believe that your child can be the best he was made to be.

Since developmental delays can just happen, do not feel guilty if it happens to your child. It is not always anyone’s fault, especially not yours.

Delayed development is much more common than you may realise. What is important is for you to do your best for your child. It is necessary for your child to get as much support as possible. This will help him to develop to be the best version of himself.

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