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Recognizing Developmental Delays in Children

Motor Skill Developmental Delays in Children continued...

Possible causes of motor skill delays. Children who are born prematurely may not develop muscles at the same rate as other children.

Other possible causes of motor delays include:

  • ataxia, a defect that impairs muscle coordination
  • cerebral palsy, a condition caused by brain damage before birth
  • cognitive delays
  • myopathy, a disease of the muscles
  • problems with vision
  • spina bifida, a genetic condition causing partial or total paralysis of the lower part of the body

Types of treatment for motor skill delays. Your child's doctor may suggest taking certain steps at home to encourage more physical activity. Your child may also need physical therapy for gross motor delays. Certain types of physical or occupational therapy may help with fine motor problems or sensory integration dysfunction.

Warning signs of motor skill delays. Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of the following signs at the age that's indicated. In addition, watch for any loss of skills that have already been learned.

By 3 to 4 months, contact the doctor if your child:

  • does not reach for, grasp, or hold objects
  • does not support his or her head well
  • does not bring objects to his or her mouth (by 4 months)
  • does not push down with legs when his or her feet are placed on a firm surface (by 4 months)

By 7 months, contact the doctor if your child:

  • has stiff and tight or very floppy muscles
  • flops his or her head when pulled into a sitting position
  • reaches with one hand only or does not actively reach for objects
  • has trouble getting objects to his or her mouth
  • doesn't roll over in either direction (by 5 months)
  • cannot sit up without help (by 6 months)
  • does not bear weight on his or her legs when you pull him or her up to a standing position

By 1 year, contact the doctor if your child:

  • does not crawl
  • drags one side of his or her body while crawling
  • cannot stand when supported

By 2 years, contact the doctor if your child:

  • cannot walk (by 18 months)
  • does not develop a heel-to-toe walking pattern or walks only on toes
  • cannot push a wheeled toy


Social and Emotional Developmental Delays in Children

Children may experience problems interacting with adults or other children, called social and/or emotional developmental delays. Usually these problems show up before a child begins school.

Possible causes. Some causes of social and emotional delays include:

  • neglect from early institutionalization or parental neglect
  • ineffective parenting or attachment problems
  • cognitive delays
  • an unknown cause

Another common cause of social and emotional developmental delays was referred to as pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). This group, now under the umbrella of "autism spectrum disorders" also causes communication problems ranging from mild to severe. PDD includes:

  • autism, a complex yet common disorder
  • Asperger syndrome
  • childhood disintegrative disorder

WebMD Medical Reference

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