Developmental Delay

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Jacqueline McCluskey
CDFR 4300 Developmental Delay

At least 8 percent of all preschool children from birth to 6 years have developmental problems and demonstrate delays in one or more domains. (Pediatric Perspective, 2003). Developmental delays occur when a child does not reach the developmental milestones by the expected time. It can affect one or more of the five areas of development: physical, cognitive, communication, social and emotional, and adaptive. If a child is experiencing a delay in the area of social/emotional then their ability to communicate could also be affected. According to IDEA developmental delay is defined as: Child with a disability for children aged three through nine (or any subset of that age range, including ages three through five), may…include a child- 1. Who is experiencing developmental delay as defined by the State and as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures in one or more of the following areas: Physical development, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive development; and 2. Who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services. [34 CFR 300.8(b)] The North Carolina General Statute 122C-3(12a) defines a developmental disability as "a severe, chronic disability of a person which:

is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments; is manifested before the person attains age 22, unless the disability is caused by traumatic head injury and is manifested after age 22; is likely to continue indefinitely; results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: self-care

receptive (understanding) and expressive language
learning mobility (ability to move)
self-direction (motivation)
the capacity for independent living
economic self-sufficiency
reflects the person's need for a combination or sequence of special, interdisciplinary, generic services, individual supports, or other forms of assistance which are of a lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated; an individual from birth to age 9, inclusive, who has a substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired condition, may be considered to have a developmental disability without meeting at least three of the above 'areas of major life activities,' if the individual, without services and supports, has a high probability of meeting those criteria later in life." The only difference between the federal definition and the state of N.C. is the mentioning of Traumatic Brain Injury in the state’s definition.

There are two risk factors associated with developmental delay. The first is genetics and the second is the environment. A child can be at risk genetically because of genetic or chromosomal abnormality. Downs syndrome is an example of developmental delay caused genetics. Environmental risk factors occur when a child is exposed to harmful materials before or after they are born. This could be a result of a mother using drugs during pregnancy, poor nutrition, or being infected with a disease. The child’s life experiences are also included as an environmental risk factor. Child related risk factors for developmental delay are perinatal: low birth weight, premature, viral infection, heart disease, and respiratory problems; metabolic: significant feeding problems, persistent hypoglycemia, and other metabolic disorders; and neurological: intraventricular hemorrhage, intracranial pathology, and other neurological problems. Other risk factors are the parent: lack of health care, poverty, low IQ, drug abuse, and maternal depression; the community: lack of support, violence, and social isolation; and the family: dysfunctional parenting, multiple children in the family, and domestic violence. (IAFP/FPEN, 2007).

Some experts estimate that 70-80% of children with developmental delays are not being identified...
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