Developmental Delays Treatment in Northern New Jersey
Parents are naturally concerned whenever they believe their child is not developing normally. Those residing near Totowa, Little Falls Township, Woodland Park and the surrounding areas in New Jersey rely on Psycho-Educational Associates for expert care and diagnosis.
What is a Developmental Delay?
Normal development is measured by milestones that define the predictable windows (time periods) during which a child develops skills in different areas. These areas include:
- Language – ability to communicate with others effectively and express themselves
- Cognitive skills – thinking, learning, reasoning and memory
- Motor skills – ability to balance, hand-eye coordination
- Social skills – ability to form relationships, understand social cues and interact with others
When a child fails to reach these developmental milestones in the expected amount of time, this may be indicative of a developmental delay. For example, if the normal range for learning to walk is between the ages of nine and fifteen months, a twenty-month old child who has not yet started walking is considered to be developmentally delayed.
Developmental delays can occur in one or more areas of development (for instance, a child may show developmental delay in walking, but not talking, or in both). However, since growth in all areas of development are related, a delay in one area is likely to impact other areas of development.
What are the Causes of a Developmental Delay?
There are two broad categories believed to contribute to developmental delays: genetic factors and environmental factors.
- Genetic risk occurs in children born with chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, fragile X, or other chromosomal abnormalities.
- Environmental risk factors can also be in the form of extreme deprivation. For example, a child who experiences extremely limited exposure to verbal language, or one who has experienced hearing loss, may result in severe language delays.
Other environmental risks include severe medical problems that can develop after a child is born prematurely, in addition to extreme poverty or lack of care. Neglect or child abuse – which may result in brain trauma and injury – can also be responsible for developmental delays.
Warning Signs of Developmental Delays
Behavioral Warning Signs:
- The inability to pay attention or stay focused on an activity for as long as other same-age children
- Focusing on objects rather than interacting with others
- Avoidance of eye contact with others, either partially or completely
- Increased frustration stemming from the child’s inability to perform simple tasks that other same-age children can perform
- Acting out – aggressive behavior and extreme stubbornness
- Violence on a daily basis
- Rocking, staring into space or talking to oneself more than to others
- Doesn’t seek love, affection or approval from parent or caregiver
- Stereotypes and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
- Lack of spontaneous play with other children or an apparent aversion to play with others
- Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
- An extraordinary response to general stimulation such as noises, textures, etc.
Gross Motor Warning Signs:
- Clumsier than other same-age children
- Stiffness in arms and/or legs
- Limp, floppy posture
- Uses one side of the body more than the other
- Repetitive motor mannerisms such as hand or finger flapping or twisting
Vision Warning Signs
- Difficulty in visually tracking objects or people
- Constant eye rubbing
- Turning body and holding head at tilted angle when trying to focus on an object
- Difficulty focusing and/or making eye contact
- Eyes appear to be crossed or wandering
- Brings objects very close to eyes in order to see
- Abnormal size or coloring of one or both eyes
- After twelve months, difficulty finding or picking up small objects from the floor
Hearing Warning Signs
- Speaking either in a very loud or very soft voice
- Has difficulty responding to someone speaking from across the room
- Is not startled by loud noises
- Small or deformed appearance of ears
- Failure to develop age-appropriate sounds or words
- Turns body and the same ear towards the sound
- After age three, has difficulty understanding or following directions
The Need for Early Intervention
The earlier intervention occurs, the better it is for the child. Early intervention recognizes and treats delays that – if left untreated – may cause a domino effect of delays (for instance, child who cannot sit up unaided needs to be taught to do that, or he or she will not be able to stand up). This early intervention is needed to correct these problems and help diminish the impact that one area of delay can have on all the other areas.
Early intervention is crucial for a child’s self-esteem, which is a basic character-building block. A child who is not receiving help with things like school or social interaction may become increasingly self-aware and embarrassed by their inability to function like other children. In turn, he or she may start to avoid situations that require speaking and interacting with others. In order to avoid the problems that come from social awkwardness or isolation, early intervention is a must.
The sooner your child’s developmental delay is addressed, the more successful treatment can be. Here at Psycho-Educational Associates, we have experienced, caring professionals standing by ready to provide you with treatment for developmental delays and a variety of other services. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!