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.

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

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



Contact us today

Give us a call on 1800 275 753 to discuss your support needs with our Allied Health team, or send an online enquiry and we'll be in touch.

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How can CPL help?

Children just diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay

Early Intervention Therapy

Early diagnosis can help to ensure the right support is put in place for your child soon as possible. Our early intervention services will work with you to develop strategies to best support your child reach their goals.


The NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach supports children aged 0-6 years who have a developmental delay or disability and their families/carers. CPL's Support Coordinators can help you to navigate your first NDIS plan.

Teens and Adults with Global Developmental Delay

Allied Health therapies

People with Global Developmental Delay may receive support from CPL's Allied Health team through a range of therapies, including speech and occupational. When you make an appointment to see a CPL Allied Health therapist they will work out the best treatments for you.

Getting out into your community

Community access is an important part of everyday life. As this looks different for everyone, we will meet with you and your family to discuss what you like to do and how we can support you.

Independent living

CPL provides 24/7 Supported Independent Living services, and has a number of vacancies in accessible homes.

Employment and Training opportunities

There are a range of disability employment and training pathways for people with Global Developmental Delay, designed to help you reach your goals.