Understanding Global Developmental Delay

The term Global Developmental Delay, or GDD, is used when a child shows delays across several areas of development. It is a general term used to describe any delay in the developmental period of a child between birth and 18 years.

These delays must have continued for at least 6 months, and are usually accompanied limited communication abilities.

GDD is believed to affect about 1-3% of the population.

Facts about Global Developmental Delay

There are many possible causes of GDD, some are permanent, but others aren’t. They include:

  • Premature birth
  • Genetic condition such as Down Syndrome
  • Chromosomal condition such as Fragile X
  • Metabolic conditions such as thyroid function
  • Problems in pregnancy or during birth such as heavy bleeding or lack of oxygen to the baby
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Injuries or infections of the brain such as head injury or meningitis
  • Ongoing illness and lengthy hospitalisation

What impacts can Global Developmental Delay have?

Child development is complex and each child with GDD may present differently. There are many areas in child development that they may be delayed in. The delays may be in:

  • Speech and language development
  • Gross motor development (walking, crawling)
  • Fine motor development (holding toys, drawing)
  • Thinking, understanding and learning
  • Social interaction and how they relate to others (make friends)
  • Emotional regulation
  • Tasks of daily living (getting dressed, toileting)

The combination of delays and degree of delays will have different impact on how the child and their family can function and how much support they may need. During the process of receiving a diagnosis a child may have to go through a broad range of assessment; including:

  • Vision and Hearing tests
  • Speech and language assessment
  • Behaviour tests
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Activities of daily living assessment
  • Blood tests
  • Genetic and chromosomal tests
  • MRI
  • Neurological test

How can we help?

Early intervention can make a difference. Through early intervention services, you can work with health professionals to choose therapy options to address your child’s symptoms, support your child, improve outcomes for your child and help them reach their full potential. We can help you on your journey with your child in many ways. Our allied health professionals (Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, and Social Workers) can provide support for:

  • Working on achieving motor milestones, mobility and physical activity
  • Developing communication skills to help your child to better understand language, speak, and read and write
  • Mealtime management abilities to safely eat and drink
  • Helping to process sensory information
  • Developing strategies to assist with memory and thinking skills

To find out more about how we can support you and your family, call us on 1800 940 754 or fill out the form below.




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