Developmental milestones build children’s physical, emotional, and mental health. These milestons include taking first steps, saying first words, waving, smiling for the first time, rolling over, and so on. However, certain toddlers can’t perform these tasks even after reaching the required age. This is referred to as developmental delay. Children with this condition often struggle with activities that their peers find easy. Various factors, such as alcohol and drug use during pregnancy, genetic conditions, inadequate oxygen during delivery, and malnutrition, can cause developmental delays. Though often there is no easily defined reason. Approximately 1 in 6 children experience delays, reiterating its prevalence. Here are three types of developmental delays as well as common signs of them.
- Vision developmental delays
Visual development is essential for other significant milestones, such as understanding and exploring the environment, recognizing people, etc. It’s common for an infants’ vision to be blurred until six months. Afterward, it improves as they coordinate sight in both eyes. Each growth phase has visual milestones and a visit to your doctor is needed if your child doesn’t experience them. For instance, children may have a vision development delay if they can’t follow moving objects with their eyes, notice their hands, or cross their eyes by three months. Likewise, you should also watch out for eye drainage, eyes turning in or out, or the inability to follow near objects by six months.
Common causes of vision development delays include genetics, alcohol abuse, bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Refractive errors (nearsightedness and farsightedness), retinopathy of prematurity, strabismus, and infantile cataracts are potential causes. It’s worth noting that the underlying cause of the problem will determine the appropriate treatment. For instance, strabismus can be treated by patching the stronger eye to boost the other eye’s strength. Eyeglasses, surgery, and eye exercises are also viable treatments. You can also help by supporting vision with age-appropriate activities.
- Language development and speech delay
Speech refers to the physical act of talking, while language is communicating with others with words. Speech and language go hand in hand and can help you ascertain if your child is developing correctly. Experts agree that babies learn to hear and respond to familiar voices from the womb. However, they start cooing at two months, babbling at six months, speaking at age one, and articulating themselves at age two. Your child may be experiencing language and speech delay if they don’t meet these milestones. Delays can be expressive, receptive, or a combination of both. Receptive language delay occurs when your child can’t understand the language.
On the other hand, expressive delay means children can’t communicate verbally. This condition can be caused by hearing impairment, intellectual disability, autism, and psychosocial issues. Fortunately, language and speech delays can be corrected with the right strategies. For instance, language therapy is the most common treatment. However, this treatment will depend on your child’s age or the cause and extent of the condition. Therefore, working with experts like Bliss Speech and Hearing Services can yield the best results.
- Motor skill delay
Motor skills are responsible for one’s daily movements and tasks. Children need to develop these skills in order play, feed themselves, and move around. Children are expected to develop specific motor skills at certain ages. However, not all will achieve them at precisely the same time. While this is normal, some kids may still have trouble mastering these skills long after they pass the recommended ages. Those born prematurely have a higher risk of experiencing these delays since their muscles may not develop like their peers. Other possible causes include spina bifida, myopathy, cerebral palsy, ataxia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, and so on.
Certain warning signs can alert you to these issues. For instance, you should see your doctor if your child can’t reach for or grasp objects, support his or her head, or push his or her legs down at four months. Likewise, stiff or floppy muscles, sagging head when sitting, or inability to sit up at seven months may indicate motor skills delay. Treatment is dependent on what type of motor problems your child experiences. For instance, physical therapy is ideal for dealing with gross motor delays. On the other hand, occupational therapy will work well for fine motor delays or sensory processing disorders. Your doctor can effectively diagnose and prescribe the most effective treatment.
So, whether you’re a parent who’s trying to figure out why your toddler is acting out, or wondering what is foster care for since you’re considering becoming a foster parent yourself, or maybe you’re just a concerned family member, it’s totally valid to want to explore your concerns. Children can’t always be as open as adults are, and so often these developmental delays are only noticed later. At least knowing some basic signs can help.