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Global Development Delay

What is it?

Global Developmental Delay is an umbrella term for conditions where there are several developmental problems. The problems typically include lower than average intellectual functioning and delayed achievement of physical milestones (like sitting or walking). It is often associated with poor social skills and difficulties with communication.

What causes it?

Anything that affects the development of the central nervous system can cause Global Developmental Delay. Causes may be genetic, a problem in the pregnancy, or even a childhood injury or infection.
One of the better known causes is the Fragile X syndrome, which is where a problem with the X chromosome interferes with producing a protein critical for neural development.

Treatment considerations

As always the treatment will depend on the specific needs of the individual, but commonly a mix of therapies can help. Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy help with gross and fine motor skills. Speech-Language Therapy helps with communication skills. Behaviour Therapy and Music Therapy can help with social and emotional functioning.

Developmental considerations

As the name suggests Global Developmental Delay can have a wide range of effects on functioning, so it is important to learn all of the specific issues facing the child.

Looking down the road

Global Developmental Delay is not normally a progressive condition, so it does not get worse. Some children catch up to peers however parents should be prepared for the fact that some disabilities may persist throughout life. Many children with Global Developmental Delay grow up to be independent adults, some need a bit of support and in more severe cases they may require extensive support.


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