Characteristics of Developmentally Delayed Children

While most children develop along a chartable path, some have delays in their development and lag behind their peers. These developmentally challenged children are referred to as having a developmental delay. Children with developmental delays often require extra attention as they grow to ensure that they reach their full potential.


A developmental delay is, just as it sounds, a noticeable delay in a child’s development, according to the University of Michigan. A child can be diagnosed as having a developmental delay if he fails to reach standard developmental milestones within a reasonable amount of time. A child can experience a developmental delay in only one area or in several areas, including motor skills, language and social skills.

Missed Milestones

The slight missing of a developmental milestone in and of itself is not enough to diagnose an individual as having a developmental delay. For example, many children take a little extra time to start to walk, speak their first word or develop the ability to share. If your child misses a milestone mark by several months, there is likely no cause for concern. When you should consider the presence of a developmental delay is when your child misses the milestone by more than three months, as this could be an indication that she is struggling developmentally.

Social Signs

Often, when a child suffers from a developmental delay, this delay can be seen by inspecting the way in which the child interacts with others his own age. If your child struggles to make friends in his own age group and opts instead for friends who are much younger, or if he is noticeably behind his same-age friends in development, he may be suffering from a developmental delay.


While most developmental delays are noticed prior to a child starting school, some cognitive delays may go undetected until your child enters the classroom. If she appears to struggle in school, there may be a developmental delay at the root of her problems. During the first several years of your child’s schooling especially, it is vital that you monitor her performance and address any concerns that may arise regarding her abilities, as doing so can be integral in ensuring that she doesn’t fall behind.

Rising Frustration

Many children who struggle with developmental delays experience problems with frustration. As is understandable, these children have to work harder to develop skills that come naturally to some, making growing up a bit more difficult for them and leading them to become frustrated by their inabilities. If your child suffers from a developmental delay, try to ease this frustration by continually supporting him as he moves through these developmental stages and encouraging him each step of the way to keep trying.



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