A common misconception is that a baby who is walking cannot be developmentally delayed. The truth is that a baby does not have to be falling short of all major and minor milestones in order to qualify as being developmentally delayed. In fact, many babies are delayed in one area or another, even though they may be crawling, walking and talking!
What is a Developmental Delay?
A developmental delay is any type of major lag in a baby’s physical, emotional, social, behavioral or cognitive development. A delay can be significant in one part of a baby’s development, while other parts are right on track. A baby might be perfectly capable of walking, but may not be able to communicate his needs, or interact with his caregivers.
Common Types of Developmental Delays
One of the most common developmental delays is autism. Autism is a severe developmental disorder that usually begins during the first two and a half years of age. It is a broad spectrum and it has far-reaching effects that can touch on all aspects of a baby’s development.
Other common types of developmental delays include Asperger Syndrome (a very specific form of autism), PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), and general delays with speech, behavior, cognition and physical development.
Diagnosing a developmental delay in a walking baby, or a younger baby or even a toddler usually begins with an evaluation. This may be done by the child’s physician, but in some cases it may be better to select a behavioral agency that specializes in developmental delays.
Diagnosing involves evaluating the baby, and questioning the parents in order to gain information on the baby’s development thus far.
There are many treatment options available for babies with developmental delays. Occupational and physical therapy can help babies learn to communicate their needs and interact with others. Special types of therapy can help babies who have sensory and integration issues.
One of the best resources for treatment options is the state-funded Early Intervention program. Every state has one, and funding is provided through insurance or through the state, so no family will be turned away or forced to turn down treatment options due to being unable to pay.
Depending on the severity of a baby’s developmental delay, treatment may need to be sought out for several months, years, or for a significant portion of the child’s life.
The one thing parents of developmentally delayed children need the most is support, not just for their babies but for themselves. Having a developmentally delayed child can be stressful, disappointing and overwhelming. It’s important to find resources to help support you as you learn to support your developmentally delayed baby. Resources might include your baby’s physician, a state-funded agency, and even a licensed therapist that is experienced in providing support for parents of special needs babies and toddlers.