Developmental delay

Children develop at different rates. Some will learn to walk and talk far earlier than others. However, when a child develops in any particular area at a rate significantly slower than their peers they could have developmental delay.

Developmental delay can arise in the five key development areas:

  • Cognitive – relating to a child’s ability to learn and solve problems.
  • Social and emotional – relating to a child’s ability to interact with others as well as self-control and self-help skills.
  • Speech and language – the ability to use and understand language and all forms of communication.
  • Fine motor skills – control of fingers and use of small objects such as cutlery, pens etc.
  • Gross motor skills – control of large muscles resulting in the ability to walk, sit etc.

Delay in all areas is referred to as global developmental delay. Developmental delay is very broad because it can relate to one, or many, areas of development. The impact on the child’s education will vary drastically between cases.

It is important that all people working with children with developmental delay understand their difficulties and the provision they require. It is entirely possible that a child with developmental delay will have special educational needs (SEN). In some cases, SEN additional support may be adequate, whereas in others an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will be necessary.


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