Development in children is measured against the usual timeline for certain skills and abilities to appear; these benchmarks are known as developmental milestones and are achieved within a period of time defined as normal. Minor, temporary delays are usually no cause for alarm. An ongoing delay or multiple delays in reaching milestones is called developmental delay. The different areas of development that may be delayed include motor skills, speech and language development, cognitive development, social and emotional development.
Developmental delay may be caused by a variety of factors, including problems with pregnancy or birth, environmental deprivation, heredity or medical conditions such as Cerebral Palsy or neuromuscular disorders. The cause is not always known.
The assessment of developmental delay is important to understand the nature of the difficulties and promote early intervention services and special education supports.
Early diagnosis does improve outcomes. For more information see: