Developmental Delay

Development is a concept used to describe a child’s growth maturation and progress in acquiring complex skills and abilities in different areas over time. Children with Developmental Delay do not progress as expected in one or more of these areas. Developmental Delay may be suspected early in the child’s life. For example, if there are feeding difficulties or unusual muscle tone.

Developmental Delay related to learning or behavioural difficulties may not be apparent until the child is older or at school. A child’s development may be delayed in 1 or more of these areas:

  • Gross motor – relating to movement skills such as rolling and walking
  • Fine motor – relating mainly hands skills such as holding toys and writing
  • Speech and language – relating to the development of communications skills
  • Cognition – related to learning
  • Emotion and Behaviour
  • Vision and Hearing

What causes Developmental Delay?

There are many different causes for Developmental Delay. It is a common condition affecting 1 to 3% of the population.

  • May be caused by a child’s genetic makeup eg: Down’s syndrome
  • May be caused by problems around the time of delivery
  • May be caused by prematurity
  • May be as a result of meningitis or head injury
  • May be due to an unknown cause

It is not always possible to identify a cause for a child’s Developmental Delay, often despite extensive investigations. A cause can be found in about half of cases; it can be difficult for parents when the cause of their child’s delay is not identified.

How can Chiltern Children’s Physiotherapy help?

Our Specialist Paediatric Physiotherapists:

  • Understand childhood and brain development and are able to apply this knowledge to the children that they assess and treat.
  • Will identify the areas of a child’s gross motor (movement) development that are delayed
  • Provide physiotherapy treatment and advice through play and activities to facilitate the development of the child’s gross motor skills
  • Provide advice and home programmes of activities which families are encouraged to continue with between physiotherapy sessions, to ensure carry-over and maximise functional potential.


» Neurological Conditions