Special Needs – Development Delays

Special Needs Guide

Developmental Delays: Developmental needs/disabilities are a group of conditions involving impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. The conditions we list below can affect everyday living and some may last throughout a person’s lifetime. Treatments may include physical, speech, and occupational therapy, special education classes and sometimes psychological counseling. We provide the following information for reference purposes only and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information. We highly recommend speaking with an experienced physician for further details on each condition.

 Autism Spectrum Disorder Other common names:
Autism, Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder. As of June 2013, one of the biggest changes in DSM-5 was that PDD-NOS, Autistic Disorder, Aspergers, and Autism were re-categorized under one diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term used to describe complex disorders impacting brain development that can range from mildly to profoundly disabling. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Usually signs are noticed between the ages of two and three years of age and affect children in varying degrees. Children with autism may have trouble using and understanding other children’s and adult’s behavior and gestures, including facial expressions, motioning them to come to you, etc. They may have difficulty participating in make-believe play (creating buildings with blocks, pretending to cook a meal or drive a car). They may seem unaffectionate and unfriendly. They may have delayed or no speech and have difficulty understanding what they hear. They may repeat words they hear or use words inappropriately or use an unusual inflection or tone of voice. They have difficulty expressing needs and wants with words, gestures, and facial expressions. About 25 percent of children with autism are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. They may have repetitive/stereotypic behaviors that may include rocking, spinning, flapping of hands or fingers, or interest in only one or two things. Children with autism may also have increased or decreased sensitivity to sounds, light and touch/textures. Many children on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities and about 40% have average to above average intellectual abilities. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. ASD affects over three million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Causes: Research has finally begun to help us to understand the roots of autism. Currently it is believed that many cases of autism are the result of a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing brain development. Possible complications: Difficulty with social-interaction, communication and a tendency to engage in repetitive (self-stimulating) behaviors are often characteristics of ASD. Individuals with ASD may have difficulty seeing things from another person’s perspective and are often seen as disconnected. Difficulty regulating emotions can result in disruptive and physically aggressive behavior. Changes in routine, transitioning from one activity to the next, or unfamiliar, overwhelming or frustrating situations can also result in distress, repetitive self-calming behaviors or even self-injurious behaviors. Gastrointestinal distress is common among persons with autism, and affects up to 85 percent of children with ASD (Autism Speaks data). Seizure disorders, including epilepsy, occur in as many as 39 percent of those with autism. Hypersensitivity/Hyposensitivity to sensory information is not uncommon creating unusual responses to sensory input. Pica, or a tendency to eat things that are not food. Sleep problems are also common among children and adolescents with autism and may likewise affect many adults. Individuals diagnosed with ASD may not understand dangerous situations, placing them at risk for serious harm in areas such as water or with fire. The behaviors can become worse if affected children do not have opportunity to be with typically developing children and adults. Treatment: Early, intensive intervention greatly improves learning, communication and social skills in children with autism. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is widely accepted as a therapy for children with autism. Dietary changes and medication can also help with certain symptoms of autism. Prognosis:  Each child with autism has unique abilities and potential. Many people with autism are able to live independent and fulfilling lives.

 Institutional Autism: Labeling a child with Institutional Autism remains a debated topic, as it isn’t a definitive medical diagnosis found in pediatric textbooks. It is a term described by Ronald Federici, Psy.D who wrote about the topic after doing extensive research. Most experts agree, however, that developmental delays are often found in children who have been raised in institutional care. Many orphanages are unable, due to lack of staffing or resources, to meet all the needs that a child has for normal development. Many children receive insufficient nutrition and/or are left in cribs for a majority of their day. Because they do not receive an adequate amount of social and physical stimulation, some children’s development deteriorates to a point where the child presents with autistic behaviors or as mentally delayed. Usually when someone describes a child as having €institutional autism, the child is presenting with behaviors such as not being able to make eye contact, not speaking or vocalizing, not being able to interact or play, and often seeming greatly disconnected from the world around them. When babies and children receive no outside stimulation in their lives, they often begin self-stimulating behaviors due to this deprivation. Common behaviors seen in children thought to have institutional autism are continual rocking back and forth, head banging, flapping fingers in front of their face, or repetitive motions such as pulling their hair or hitting their face. Problems often arise when new adoptive parents meet their child for the first time and see any of these behaviors. Often during the first few days, the child will not make any eye contact, will often refuse to move or eat, and will resort to self-soothing behaviors or rages because of the sudden changes in their lives. Some parents struggle to decide whether the child is just presenting with orphanage behaviors which will diminish with time or whether their child has a more permanent and severe mental condition. Treatment: In many cases, children who exhibit symptoms of institutional autism have their behaviors improve over time through intervention and therapy. Therapies may include physical, emotional, and cognitive support services and may be required for months or years.

Love Without Boundaries[1]

Language Delay: A language delay is a communication disorder. A child is said to have a language delay if he or she does not meet the language developmental milestones for their age. Language may be developing, but it is at a slower rate than the norm for the child’s age. It is important to note that a language delay does not necessarily mean the same thing as a speech impairment. They may be connected, but these terms are not used interchangeably.

 Some causes of language delay:

  • Developmental speech and language disorder is a common reason for speech/language problems in kids. This is a learning disability that is caused by the brain working differently. These kids may have trouble producing speech sounds, using spoken language to communicate, or understanding what other people say. Speech and language problems are often the earliest sign of a learning disability. Learn more about language-based learning disabilities.
  • Hearing loss is often overlooked, and easily identified. If a child is speech/language delayed, their hearing should be tested.
  • Intellectual disability is a common cause of speech and language delay.
  • Extreme environmental deprivation can cause speech delay. = If a child is neglected or abused and does not hear others speaking, they will not learn to speak.
  • Prematurity can lead to many kinds of developmental delays, including speech/language problems.
  • Auditory Processing Disorder describes a problem with decoding speech sounds. These kids can improve with speech and language therapy.
  • Neurological problems like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and traumatic brain injury can affect the muscles needed for speaking.
  • Autism affects communication. Speech/language/communication problems are often an early sign of autism.
  • Structural problems like cleft lip or cleft palate can interfere with normal speech.
  • Apraxia of speech is a specific speech disorder in which the child has difficulty in sequencing and executing speech movements.
  • Selective mutism is when a child will not talk at all in certain situations, often school.

Language delays can be receptive, expressive, or a combination of both. A receptive language problem occurs when a child has difficulty understanding language. An expressive language disorder occurs when the child has difficulty expressing themselves. €‹€‹Some children have a language delay that involves a combination of both expressive and receptive issues.

Some possible symptoms of language delay can be: not babbling by the age of 15 month€‹s€‹, not talking by the age of two, an inability to speak in short sentences by age three, difficulty following directions, poor pronunciation or articulation, difficulty putting words together in a sentence, and leaving words out of a sentence (Source 1 and 2).

No Hands But Ours[2]

Global Developmental Delays: Developmental Delay is a term that is used to explain when a child is not developing in the areas of: · gross motor · fine motor· language and cognition· social or emotional skills.

When a delay occurs in many or all of these areas, it is called a global developmental delay. There are many different factors that can affect a child’s development. Developmental delays may be temporary or permanent depending on the cause of the delay (Source 1 and 2).

No Hands But Ours[3]

Links for this Special Need:








https://www.facebook.com/groups/1426082930970764/ *Language Delays











Stories or Blogs from Families who have Parented a Child who is Developmentally Delayed:






[1] Love Without Boundaries – http://www.adoptspecialneeds.org/

[2] http://www.nohandsbutours.com/special-needs/

[3] http://www.nohandsbutours.com/special-needs/