What is child development?
Child development is a dynamic process in which children develop from total dependence on caregivers in all aspects of functioning during infancy to growing independence in later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
A child develops skills over the years in a variety of interconnected domains, including sensory-motor, cognitive, communication and social-emotional.
In order to keep track of these skills during the development period, there are common milestones that your doctor would recommend for each age group. Most children master the skills of each milestone as they age, however, minor, temporary delays in development are expected. Parents should take note in this case as ongoing or continuous delay may be a cause of concern.
A child plays an active role in developing their own skills and their development is greatly influenced by interaction with their surroundings.
Here are some of the functions or skills children would have achieved according to their respective age.
Birth - 11 months:
- Muscle control
- Interest and language
8 - 20 months:
- Social skills
- Developing vocabulary
16 - 26 months:
- Physical strength
- Active exercise
- Quiet time
- Understanding behaviour
- Problem solving
22 - 36 months:
- Using material, picture books
- Listening to stories
- Improving literacy
- Independent eating, dressing and toileting
- Making sentences / conversations
- Active play (running / climbing)
30 - 50 months:
- Sharing / helping
- Developing independence and decision making
- Rapid development in literacy, numeracy and using conversation as an important source of information guidance and reassurance
40 - 60+ months:
- Sense of identity, social customers and rules
- Tolerance and controlling behaviour
- Developing social skills and learning through shared activities with the introduction of a wide variety of equipment
What affects a child’s development?
Developmental delays are caused by mutifactors which include poor birth outcomes,inadequate stimulation, malnutrition,chronic ill health and other organic problems, psychological and familial situations or any environmental factors.
While developmental delay may not be permanent , it can provide a basis for identifying children who may experience a disability
Thus, this further emphasizes the important of early identification and to commence timely intervention with family involvement and providing stimulating environment
The two main areas that a parent can observe to determine whether your child is experiencing developmental delays.
Fine and gross motor skill delay:
Fine motor skills are small movements made by children, such as holding a toy or drawing with a crayon. Children's gross motor skills are defined as large movements such as jumping or climbing stairs.
Most children can lift their heads by 3 months, sit with some support by 6 months, walk before the age of two, and stand on one foot by the age of five. Those who are delayed, on the other hand, may exhibit symptoms such as:
- trunk and limbs that are floppy or loose
- Arms and legs that are stiff
- By 9 months old, the child is unable to sit without assistance.
- Involuntary reflexes occur more compared to voluntary movements.
- By the age of one year, the child is unable to bear weight on the legs and stand up.
Speech and language delay
The first three years of a child’s life are the most active for learning speech and language because the brain develops and matures.
The process of language learning begins when an infant cries out in hunger. Most children can recognise basic language sounds by 6 months, are able to say two to three simple words despite it being unclear by 12 to 15 months, by 18 months they are able to say several words and by three years old, they can speak in short sentences.
Language delay and speech delay are not the same thing. To make sounds, the vocal tract, tongue, lips, and jaw must coordinate with muscles.
Language delays occur when children have difficulty understanding what others are saying or when they are unable to express their own thoughts. Speaking, gesturing, signing, and writing are all examples of language.
In young children, distinguishing between speech and language delay can be difficult. A child with an isolated speech delay understands things and can express their needs (for example, by pointing or signing) but does not speak as many words as they should.
Because hearing loss can lead to speech and language delays, your doctor will usually include a hearing test to provide a diagnosis.
What are the types of disorders that can affect a child’s developmental?
A childhood developmental disorder is any condition that affects development in childhood and lasts into adulthood.
Developmental disorders that are commonly seen include:
- Autism spectrum disease
- Learning disorder
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- language disorders
- Neurological diseases like Cerebral Palsy
- physical difficulties
What are the signs and symptoms of child developmental disabilities?
The signs and symptoms of children will depends on the causes and diagnosis. These iwould include significant delayed in their fine and gross motor skill,weakness of limbs, spasticity , speech and language impairments , difficulty in learning,poor attention, problem with sensory processing and problems in understanding social behaviour
What are the available interventions and therapies for child developmental disabilities?
The involvement of parents in shaping a child’s development and the family environment influences the success rate for early intervention strategies.Another important aspect is a multi and interdisciplinary approach as every child is unique and presents with different impairment and disabilities.
Early diagnosis and intervention are the key in ensuring the best success in managing our children
Some of the early intervention strategies available are:
- Physiotherapy- stretching/strengthening/postural/gait training
- Occupational therapy- sensory stimulation/motor planning/eye hand coordination/ADL/fine hand function, etc
- CVI ( Cerebral Visual Impairment) therapy
- Speech and language therapy- oromotor/comprehension/swallowing
- Behavioural modification/intervention
- Early intervention programme EIP/ preacademic/ academic
- Social/community activities
- Dietary and nutrition
- Others: hippotherapy/hydrotherapy
Rehabcentric at Ara Damansara Medical Centre houses some of the best rehabilitation specialists that would be able to recommend the most suitable therapy according to the development delay your child is facing. With many years of expertise, our doctors will guide you through the process with utmost care and respect.
Early diagnosis and early intervention programme
Multi and interdisciplinary approach