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Developmental delay

Developmental delay

Developmental delay

Developmental delay or maturational delay refers to a delay in two or more areas of the child’s development such as language, fine or gross motor skills, personal and social development, and adaptive behaviour. Developmental delay is a diagnosis that is applied to children under the age of 5. There should be an obvious delay in skills with respect to the expected abilities for their age and it may have several causes (genetic, birth complications, infections, etc.) but they may also be of unknown aetiology. We have to remember that during their development, children may also experience delays in a single area, such as language. It is important to differentiate these specific delays from a more global and generalised delay in most developmental milestones.

WHAT CHARACTERISTICS CAN WE OBSERVE IN DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY?

  • There are no characteristic or abnormal signs. Developmental milestones can appear in the expected order, albeit more slowly. The child’s behaviour is more similar to that of a younger child than that corresponding to their chronological age.
  • They find it difficult to form concepts, establish categories, make classifications and create relationships between objects or facts.
  • The level of motivation towards the activity can be affected by insufficient verbal comprehension, by difficulties with attention or by the degree of difficulty of the proposed task itself.
  • These children usually present delays in their strategies for reorganising and understanding the demands of the social environment, maintaining and managing attention, organising information and adapting their behaviour.

With early and adequate stimulation, many children adopt developmental patterns and a rhythm similar to children of their own age. However, in other cases the developmental delay persists, causing intellectual disability in the future.

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