Global developmental delay is used to describe an overall delay in two or more major areas of a child's development. Developmental delays, in general, are looked for at regular visits to the doctor. The pediatrician will determine if global developmental delay is present. Causes for global developmental delay could be genetic or environmental. Some causes are genetic such as Fragile X syndrome, an inherited form of mental retardation, and Rett syndrome, an inherited disease that causes problems with the nervous system. Other causes are premature birth, lead exposure and thyroid problems. If you suspect your child has any developmental delays, you should discuss them with his pediatrician.
Delayed motor skills are symptoms of global developmental delay. If a child is not able to roll over, sit up or walk at the appropriate age, the pediatrician may suspect global developmental delay. A child should begin to roll over at around 4 months of age. Sitting up occurs around 6 months. A child walks at approximately 12 to 14 months.
Learning and Reasoning
A child who has difficulty learning new things or cannot reason age-appropriately may be considered for global developmental delay. A 6-month-old will try to get to a toy that is out of reach. At around 18 months, a child should have the ability to point to at least one body part. At 2 years old, she should be able to point to two pictures and name one. A 2 1/2-year-old can point to six body parts.
Speech and Language
If a child cannot identify sounds, babble or repeat sounds, he may have global developmental delay. A 6-month-old should be able to turn to a voice or rattling sound. By 9 months, he should be making one syllable sounds and may be able to say "dada" or "mama." A 1-year-old should be able to imitate sounds and be babbling.
Social and Personal Skills
A 4-month-old baby should smile spontaneously and respond to affection. At 6 months, she will interact socially with her parents. By 1 year, he will have a strong attachment with his parents. She should be laughing with others at 18-months-old and playing alongside others by 2 years of age. A child who does not have these social skills may have global developmental delay.
Even small children have daily activities they should be able to complete. Children with global developmental delay may have difficulty with these tasks such as eating or dressing. At 9 months, a baby should be able to feed himself, and he should drink from a cup at about 15 months. An 18-month-old will try to help around the house. The ability to take clothes off occurs at around 2 years old; putting clothes on occurs around 6 months later. A 3-year-old should be able to brush his own teeth with assistance.
- American Academy of Neurology: Testing for the Cause of Global Developmental Delay
- Bright Futures, American Academy of Pediatrics; Paula Duncan MD FAAP, Joseph Hagan MD FAAP, Judith Shaw RN MPH EdD; 2008
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt
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