The Types of Development Delays Your Child Might Experience

Amisha Gandhi

29 November 2021

Sometimes a child develops slowly or cannot do what other children of their age can do. This happens when there are multiple delays in multiple areas of development.

Sometimes the cause of these delays is clear. Sometimes there is no clear cause. In this article, we’ll go over the different delays your child might experience.

Cognitive Delays

Cognitive delays include challenges with thinking skills. The child may be troubled with following directions, remembering things or problem solving. The child may not be able to express his or her thoughts. The child may be unable to speak clearly or use words to communicate.

Cognitive delays are usually present from birth (from birth to 2 years of age). However, very early intellectual delays may be present from infancy. They are characterized by lack of responsiveness to social cues, early onset of sleeping/waking patterns, poor feeding, slow physical development, delayed speech, and slow social development.

Motor Delays

Motor delays are challenges with gross motor skills. It may involve poor coordination, stiff joints, or delayed walking.

They are usually present from birth. Children with motor delays are slow to start sitting up, crawling, or walking. They may be reluctant to use their arms for reaching, grasping, or waving.

Language Delays

Language delays are problems with verbal skills. These delays may include trouble understanding what is said to them, trouble using words or gestures to communicate, or trouble understanding or using grammar.

Children with language delays are also slow to start talking. They may have trouble following directions. Language delays are often seen with other types of delays, particularly cognitive delays.

Speech Delays

Speech delays are significant differences between a child’s speech and the speech of other children of the same age. Speech delays may include having trouble with volume, clarity, or rhythm of speech, or trouble with the motor control needed to produce speech.

Sometimes speech delays may occur alone, but they often occur with other types of delays, such as language and cognitive delays.

Feeding Delays

Feeding delays can occur alone or with other types of delays. They include difficulty with sucking and swallowing, trouble with chewing, or trouble knowing when to stop eating. These feeding delays can occur alone, with delays in muscle tone, and with other types of developmental delays.

Sensory Delays

Sensory delays are problems with the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and vision. They include problems with reacting to or responding to sensory information. For example, a child may stop playing with a toy because the toy is no longer very interesting. These sensory delays may occur alone, with cognitive delays, or with other types of delays.

Other Developmental Delays

Other types of developmental delays include physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. Children with physical disabilities may also have intellectual or language challenges.

Over time, children with cerebral palsy may develop a variety of skills. These children may have delays in gross and/or fine motor skills. They may have difficulty with posture and balance. Language and communication challenges are also common.

Children with spina bifida generally have a wide range of disabilities. These disabilities can involve muscles, bones, or nerves. Spina bifida can cause loss of bladder and bowel control. Some children with spina bifida may have hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain). This can cause learning and memory challenges.

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