How To Recognize Developmental Delays in Children

December 29, 2022

How To Recognize Developmental Delays in Children

Every child grows and learns at their own pace, but it is important to be aware of developmental delays and the timelines that go with them. As parents, we want to give our children the best opportunity to succeed in life. With that said, every new parent quickly learns how many aspects of a child’s growth and development need to be monitored for health progress. A huge list of questions quickly arises, such as:

  • What age should my child be crawling or walking?
  • How vocal should my child be by age X?
  • Is it normal for my child to be less social?

While there are general indications for each of those questions, they are meant as guidelines, not to be used as definitive proof that your child is developmentally delayed. Being cognizant of these timelines is a great first step, meaning you are actively monitoring your child and can catch any delays at an early stage!

The team at Therapists 2 Go has put together a list of developmental delays that your child may experience, as well as general milestones to keep in mind when tracking your child’s progress. Again, these are not guarantees of a delay, rather serve as useful information with which to use your best judgment. 

What Are the Signs of Developmental Delays?

While some delays are easier to recognize than others, for example, physical delays, others can be more discrete. Another factor to consider is that growth and development can occur very rapidly, with children who seem to be falling behind, suddenly catching up. As a parent, the best thing you can do is keep a watchful eye and consult a professional if you notice that your child is missing key milestones.

Language and Speech Delay

Speech and language delays are among the most common developmental delays a child will experience. Speech refers more so to verbal and spoken communications, whereas language is how your child expresses and interprets information. 

The early stages of language development can be different for every child. While your child may appear to be behind, sudden and substantial development can occur that can get them caught up. This can make it difficult to assess if there are underlying concerns, but as always, the safest course of action is to closely observe and consults with a development professional.

Key Speech Milestones

If you suspect that your baby or toddler has a language delay, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Does not babble or react to loud noises by 3 to 4 months
  • Does not mimic or imitate sounds by 4 months
  • Does not respond to sounds at all by 7 months
  • Cannot speak at least 15 words or does not use speech to communicate by age 2

Motor Skills or Movement Developmental Delays

Motor skills and movement are very important aspects of your child’s development. Walking and crawling are essential for muscle development and coordination skills. Equally important is your child’s ability to handle items like writing and eating utensils. These different skillsets and muscle groups can be separated into Gross and Fine motor skills.

Gross motor delay applies to large, compound muscle groups and movements – used to crawl or walk. Whereas a fine motor delay, as the name suggests, impacts your toddler’s ability to control objects with small, deliberate motions like writing or eating. Common causes include premature birth, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, vision problems, and cognitive delays.

Key Motor Skills Milestones

If you suspect that your baby or toddler has a motor skills delay, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Does not reach for, grasp, or hold objects by 3 or 4 months old
  • Can’t roll over in either direction by 5 months
  • Unable to sit up unassisted by 6 months
  • Does not crawl or cannot stand while being supported by age 1
  • Cannot walk or push a wheeled toy by 18 months

Cognitive Developmental Delays

Cognitive delays encompass your child’s ability to think, learn and focus. Sometimes described as an intellectual disability, cognitive-developmental delays may be due to a learning disability (like ADHD), a genetic disorder, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Early intervention and treatment are critical when attempting to address this type of delay.

Cognitive Milestones

If you suspect that your baby or toddler has a cognitive delay such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, here are some signs to watch out for that they should be displaying before 12 months of age:

  • Repetitive actions or movements 
  • Not babbling 
  • Poor eye contact
  • Paying more attention to objects than people 
  • Unresponsive to his or her name when called
  • A loss of words, skills, or social connection
  • lack of other gestures, nodding or pointing
developmental delays

Vision Delay

For the first 6 months of your child’s development, they will likely have relatively blurry vision. Eventually, it should improve. If it does not, here are milestones that you can look for:

Vision Milestones

If you are worried your child may be suffering from a vision delay, here is a general timeline you can follow:

  • Unable to notice their own hands at 2 months
  • Does not track moving objects with eyes by 3 months
  • Does not follow near objects at least 1 foot away or far objects at least 6 feet away with both eyes by 6 months

Social Delays

Social and emotional delays often present themselves as a difficulty interacting with other adults and other children. This can mean they are unable to recognize emotions, social norms, and cues, or unable to grasp aspects of social etiquette. You will likely recognize this type of delay before your child reaches school age

One cause of social or emotional delay is a condition called pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), which falls under the umbrella of ASD. While there is no cure for this type of developmental delay per se, treatment protocols include behavioral therapy and medication.

What Should I Do If I Suspect Developmental Delays in My Child?

Remember that these milestones should be considered general guidelines. Every child develops at different paces and times, with some starting early and hitting plateaus later, while others are late bloomers and catch up quickly. As a parent or guardian, the best thing you can do is be aware of normal development and keep an eye on anything that might be of concern.

Trust Your Instincts

You know your child better than anyone. You are subconsciously aware of very particular details about their actions and behavior. If you feel like something isn’t right, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional.

Intervene Early

Catching developmental delays early is critically important for treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s development, the safest option will always be a professional opinion. Your worries will either be validated and treatment can promptly begin, or you will find out that your child is developing on track and there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Remain Observant

If concerns arise, make sure you make note of them and track their progress. Your child can’t tell you about problems they are facing – so it’s up to you to watch carefully and use your best judgment. 

Therapy For Developmental Delays Available in New York, New York

The team of specialists at Therapists 2 Go is highly trained in early intervention techniques to help children catch up to healthy developmental milestones. Our services include occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy among many others! If you are concerned about the development of your child and would like the opinion of a trained professional, reach out to the experts at Therapists 2 Go today! 

Call our offices to speak with a member of our team or schedule a consultation online today!

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