How to Teach a Child With a Global Developmental Delay

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Educating a child with a global developmental delay can present a unique and complex challenge. A child is classified as having a developmental delay when he fails to reach one of the developmental milestones during his childhood. Children can experience delays in a variety of areas including speech and language, motor, fine motor, or personal and social. If a child exhibits a delay in more than one of these areas, he is categorized as having a global developmental delay. Children with global developmental delays frequently exhibit limited mental functioning and poor communication skills. Reaching these children along with educating them can be quite difficult and will require significant educational modifications.

  • Refer and test the child. Regardless of how obviously limited a child may be, your hands are tied as an educator until that child is officially identified as having a global developmental delay. Once a child has been identified as suffering from a qualifying disability, he is entitled to special education services as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997.

  • Determine least restrictive environment. After a child has been identified as having a global developmental delay, the special education team needs to determine the least restrictive environment. The least restrictive environment is the educational setting in which the child receives the required accommodations to ensure success in an environment that is as similar to non-disabled peers as his disability allows. Depending on the type and severity of the global developmental delay, a child may have to be educated in a self-contained special education class.

  • Develop an IEP. All children who are identified as having a disability are entitled to an IEP or an Individualized Education Program. This plan is created with the child's specific strengths and weaknesses in mind. An IEP is tailor made for each student and prescribes an appropriate education course for the student while taking into account which areas of functioning the child's global developmental delay most significantly impacts. In an IEP, the special education team will outline appropriate objectives and goals for the child and create a plan to achieve those goals.

  • Make appropriate educational accommodations. Every child suffers from global developmental delay in a different manner. Some children are poor communicators while others communicate fine. Because of the severe variance in the degree of impact and the skills effected by global developmental delay, each child will need different accommodations. Accommodations may include lowering the grade level of a child's work, allowing for extended testing time, or providing an electronic device to help them with tasks such as writing. The special education team will select and implement appropriate accommodations to help a child with a global developmental delay. These accommodations will ensure that the child is challenged which still allows him as much academic progress as his disability will allow.

Tips & Warnings

  • Early intervention is incredibly helpful in the treatment of global developmental delay. If you feel that your child might be developmentally delayed, do not wait until school time to seek help. Early diagnosis and treatment can be tremendously useful as the earlier the problem is addressed the more successful the treatment is.

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