There is nothing more fulfilling than watching a child move through the stages of development, reaching milestones that cause them to brim with confidence and parents to glow with pride. But there is nothing more concerning for a parent than seeing the potential for developmental delays. 

At Early Advantage, your child’s development is our highest goal. We partner with you the parent to observe and enjoy your child’s continuing growth.

With that in mind, we all need to be informed about the types and signs of developmental delays in children, and proactive measures to address these concerns. 

What are Developmental Delays:
Child Developmental Concerns and Care

Developmental delays in children refer to the lag or deviation from typical developmental milestones expected for a child’s age. These delays can encompass various areas of development, including cognitive, speech and language, social, and emotional skills.

While every child develops at their own pace, significant deviations from expected milestones may raise concerns about the child’s developmental trajectory. 

When parents or caregivers notice developmental concerns in a child, it’s crucial to seek appropriate care and support. Early intervention is key in addressing developmental delays and promoting optimal development.

Various care options are available, depending on the specific needs of the child. Pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, or early childhood specialists can conduct developmental screenings to assess a child’s developmental progress and identify any areas of concern.

These professionals can provide guidance and support to parents on strategies to help their child reach developmental milestones and navigate any challenges they may face. 

Developmental Delays in Children: What to do to Address Development Concerns - Early Advantage

Unveiling Different Types of Developmental Delays in Children 

There are several types of developmental delays in children that fall under the general categories of cognitive, speech, and social/emotional delays. 

Cognitive Developmental Disorder:

1. Intellectual Disability (ID):

Intellectual disability refers to significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. It affects a child’s ability to learn, reason, problem-solve, and adapt to daily life.

Signs to look for: Delayed milestones (e.g., sitting up, crawling, walking, gross motor skills), difficulty understanding simple instructions, limited vocabulary development, challenges with problem-solving tasks.

2. Global Developmental Delay (GDD):

Global developmental delay is when a child fails to meet several milestones in multiple developmental domains, including cognitive, motor, speech, and social skills.

Signs to look for: Delays in multiple areas of development, such as walking, talking, and social interactions. Difficulty with problem-solving, understanding concepts, and learning new skills.

Speech Delays in Infants and Young Children: 

1. Speech Sound Disorders:

Speech sound disorders involve difficulties with articulation (pronunciation) or phonological processing in child development (sound patterns) that impact a child’s ability to produce speech sounds accurately.

Signs to look for: Difficulty pronouncing sounds, substituting one sound for another, omitting sounds in words, persistent unclear speech even as the child gets older.

2. Language Delay:

Language delay refers to a delay in the development of language skills, including understanding and expressing ideas through spoken or gestured communication.

Signs to look for: Limited vocabulary for age, difficulty understanding or following directions, struggles to put words together to form sentences, delayed or absent speech milestones.

Social/Emotional Developmental Delays:

1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests.

Signs to look for: Difficulty with social interactions and communication (e.g., making eye contact, engaging in reciprocal conversation), repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand-flapping, lining up toys), intense focus on specific interests.

2. Social-Emotional Delay:

Social-emotional delay refers to difficulties in developing age-appropriate social skills and emotional regulation.

Signs to look for: A child may show a lack of interest in social interactions, difficulty understanding and expressing emotions, challenges with sharing, taking turns, or playing cooperatively with others.

These are general categories, and it’s important to note that each child is unique, so developmental delays can vary widely in presentation and severity.

If you have concerns about a child’s development, it’s crucial to consult with a pediatrician or early childhood specialist for evaluation and appropriate intervention.

Developmental Delays in Children: What to do to Address Development Concerns - Early Advantage

Early Intervention: Guiding Your Child’s Development

Early childhood is a critical period for intervention. We’ll discuss the importance of developmental screenings, and milestones, and the importance of seeking guidance promptly if you have concerns about your child’s development.

Risk Factors and Common Developmental Disorders

Certain risk factors may contribute to developmental delays. It is important to research to gain insights into birth defects, developmental disabilities, and disorders that affect a child’s development.

Awareness is key to early identification and intervention.

Parental Guidance: Supporting Your Child’s Unique Journey

As a parent, your role is pivotal. Discover ways you can help your child reach their developmental milestones and create a nurturing environment that facilitates growth and learning.

Play as a Developmental Tool

Engaging in play with your child is more than just fun – it’s a developmental tool. Play aids in gross motor skill development, cognitive, and social development when other children are involved. Developmental Delays in Children: What to do to Address Development Concerns - Early Advantage

Cognitive Delay, Social and Emotional, and Speech and Language Delays: Helping a Child With Developmental Delays 

While the concern that your child may be experiencing a delay may be a cause of distress for you as a parent, there is hope. 

Seek Professional Evaluation:

Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician or early childhood specialist for a comprehensive evaluation of the child’s development. These professionals can conduct developmental screenings and assessments to identify any areas of concern and determine the extent of the developmental delay.

Seeking professional evaluation early allows for timely intervention and support.

Educate Yourself:

Take the initiative to learn about developmental milestones and the signs of developmental delays in children. Understanding typical developmental progression can help parents recognize red flags and advocate effectively for their child’s needs.

Additionally, researching available resources, support services, and intervention options can empower parents to make informed decisions regarding their child’s care and development. And remember, we are always here to help with information or services that you may need.

Implement Early Intervention Strategies:

Upon receiving a diagnosis or assessment indicating a developmental delay, work closely with professionals to develop an individualized intervention plan for the child.

Early intervention services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, or special education programs, can provide targeted support to address specific areas of delay.

Consistency and collaboration between parents, caregivers, and intervention providers are essential for maximizing the child’s progress and developmental outcomes.

How Early Advantage Can Support Your Child

When there is a developmental delay we recommend working with Help Me Grow.

This is our area’s organization that can do a full evaluation of your child and identify any delays that may be present.  With their assessment, they will also identify if the child will qualify for any services.  Everything that Help Me Grow does is completely free for parents.  The therapist can work with the child at home and in our program.  By having them work in our program it allows a partnership with your child’s teacher and therapist.  This partnership can provide our teachers with important strategies that the therapist is working on with the child and then our teachers can help by implementing those techniques while the child is in our care.  We have seen many children grow and thrive with this program.  When delays are found early and interventions are put in place it narrows the developmental gap.  When interventions are not provided early we typically see the developmental gap only widen which makes it that much harder for the child to catch up later.  

If the child is under 3 years of age, the services will be provided by ZED (Zumbro Education District) if the child is 3 years or older the services will be provided by your child’s local school district.  

Early detection is key.  Often the child just needs a little more intentional help in an area so that the delay does not start impacting other areas or growth and development.  Just because a child has a developmental delay in early childhood does not mean that they will necessarily always have a delay.  Early intervention can help the child get on the right track to reach their full potential throughout the rest of their lives.  

A parent who has a concern can go to the Help Me Grow website and fill out a simple form to get the process started.  At Early Advantage our educators keep their eyes out for any developmental delays within their students because we know how important early intervention can be.  Each year we also do two full assessments on each of our students.  We are accessing the child in all the different areas of growth and development.  This also helps us identify any developmental concerns there may be.  We follow up these assessments with parent-teacher conferences so parents are always informed of the child’s development.  If there are concerns identified we will discuss with the parent and help them through the process of accessing help and what options are available to them.   

When there is a child with a delay we know parents are often unaware of what resources are available and what steps to take to help their child.  No parent plans on their child having a developmental delay and therefore is typically uninformed about what to do when that does happen.  That is why we are committed to walking beside the parent and providing as much support and guidance as we can.  We have made it a priority to be well-informed so that we can share our expertise with the parents in our program when a delay is a concern.  

The CDC also offers a free program for parents to use to track their child’s development.  The program is called “Learn the Signs. Act Early“.  There are checklists and other resources parents can find online to ensure their child is doing well in their development.  They also have a free Milestone Tracker app.

Developmental Delays in Children: What to do to Address Development Concerns

Preventing Social and Emotional Delays

At Early Advantage, we certainly want the best for your child. Nothing gives us more satisfaction than seeing a child reach developmental milestones. You can rest assured that our center and staff are passionate about each child’s unique developmental journey. 

If we can be of service, please contact us here to schedule a visit today. Here’s to your child’s successful journey!