Developmental delay describes the behavior of young children whose development in key mental and physical areas is slower than other children of the same age. The delay can be in any of a number of areas of development, such as movement (motor control), speaking, thinking, playing, or self-care skills.
Approximately 14% of all toddlers and preschoolers in the United States are classified as having a developmental delay. However, as many as 1 in 4 children through the age of 5 are at risk for a developmental delay or disability. Early identification allows communities to provide more effective and affordable treatment during the preschool years and can lessen the need for expensive special-education services in later childhood.
The prevalence of developmental delays in American children in the years 1997 to 2008 was 13.87%. The delays assessed included:
- Learning disabilities (7.66% prevalence in the American population)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (6.69%)
- Autism (0.47%)
- “Other” developmental delay (3.65%)
Milestones In A Child’s Development
If you are concerned that your child is experiencing developmental delays, please refer to the information below to help you determine if your child is on track with their development.
6 MONTHS. At the half-year mark, your baby’s life is really rolling, and so is she! Aside from being able to roll herself over from any position, she also likes to play, and may be able to sit unsupported. She can pass toys and objects from one hand to another, and exerts herself to get things that are beyond her reach. You’ll also be able to pick out vowels and consonants in her “babbling.”
1 YEAR. At 12 months, your baby is aware enough of her surroundings and the comings and goings of her family members to get emotional about them. She can be shy with strangers, fearful at unfamiliar sights and sounds, and downright sorrowful when her loved ones say goodbye. She will probably also be pulling herself to a standing position, and “cruising” by walking about while holding onto furniture.
2 YEARS. By the time your child has reached her second birthday, she will have entered the wonderful world of make-believe, in terms of the type of imaginative playing she’s starting to do. She most likely is already running and jumping and putting together simple sentences. She can follow basic instructions — at least when she’s not cranky. In fact, the “terrible twos” are actually a normal part of development, so don’t let those defiant moments throw you too much.
3 YEARS. Watch out! Your three-year-old will soon be climbing everything in the house, if she hasn’t started already. She can also group objects by shape and color, and follow multi-step instructions. She can probably manage stairs now, in her own way. Her sentences are getting longer, and she can identify herself and her loved ones by name and tell you how old she is.
4 YEARS. At the four-year mark, your child will truly be exploring the world outside her immediate family. Even if she doesn’t go to preschool, she’ll be interested in interacting with kids about her own age. She can memorize songs and nursery rhymes, can draw a bit and use scissors. In terms of major muscle groups, your child will probably be able to balance on one foot briefly, as well as hop and catch a gently-bouncing ball.
5 YEARS. By her fifth birthday or soon after, your child can probably count to 10 or higher, especially when counting items. She may be able to print numbers and letters, as well as draw shapes and people. She can tell a story with full sentences. On the physical front, your five-year-old is probably skipping and doing somersaults.
Again, don’t panic if your child hasn’t reached any of these milestones at the exact age noted. These general guidelines are just that — a guide. But if you do have any concerns, contact Fitness for Health in Rockville, MD for evaluation.