“Learning new skills may take longer and the process may look different for your child from their peers, but despite these differences, your child will keep learning and will thrive.”

What You’ll Learn
  • What is a developmental delay?
  • How is a developmental delay identified?
  • What does a developmental delay mean for my child?

Children grow and develop at their own pace, but what if you notice your child is consistently not meeting their developmental milestones? As your child’s parent, you know your child best—if you are concerned about your child’s development, trust your instincts and seek support from a trusted professional. The sooner you are able to coordinate this support, the better it will be for your mental health and your child’s development.


Developmental Delay

Children reach developmental milestones at their own pace, but ongoing or repeated delays in reaching their milestones can be a sign of potential challenges. When a child’s learning capacity is significantly limited, impaired or delayed in one or more areas of development—including language, cognition, physical, social, emotional, or adaptive functioning—this is considered a developmental delay. A global developmental delay refers to children who experience a significant delay in at least two or more areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17% of children between ages 3 and 17 have one or more developmental disabilities.

There is not one cause for a developmental delay, and in many cases, the cause is unknown; however, there are certain factors that may contribute to this experience:

  • Genetic or hereditary conditions
  • Complications during pregnancy and birth
  • Physical illness
  • Family stress or trauma 
  • Exposure to toxic substances


Identifying a Developmental Delay

You may be able to notice signs of a developmental delay as early as infancy, but in some cases, these signs may not be noticeable until your child reaches school age. A developmental delay is identified through play-based assessments that identify the child’s strengths and needs. Typically, the process begins with a development screening to determine whether further evaluation is necessary. If the screening suggests a potential delay, a more in-depth developmental evaluation will be conducted by a trained professional (e.g. a developmental pediatrician, neurologist, or psychologist). Once this process is complete, appropriate services that meet the needs of your child and family will be determined.


Support and Resources

Treatment and support for developmental delays vary and may change as your child learns and grows. Early intervention services are available to children between birth to age three and help children reach their full potential—more on this in our next blog post! Children who continue to demonstrate a developmental delay past age three are also entitled to a free and appropriate education based on their needs. Your child may receive support from some or all of the following professionals:

  • Audiologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Speech pathologists

It can feel overwhelming to learn that your child might have a developmental delay and we, at SolBe, are here to support you in navigating this process. Learning new skills may take longer and the process may look different for your child from their peers, but despite these differences, your child will keep learning and will thrive.


Empowering Takeaways

  • Developmental delays refer to significant delays in learning and development.
  • A developmental delay is diagnosed through a screening and evaluation process.
  • A developmental delay diagnosis does not predict future ability or intelligence.


Be vibrant and keep thriving!

This article was last reviewed or updated on March 4, 2024.

About the author: Rebecca is the Director at SolBe Learning. Rebecca has worked in the field of early education for over six years, with a passion for supporting the optimal development of young children and families. Rebecca holds a B.A. in early childhood education and sociology as well as an M.A. and license in school counseling.



Boston Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). What is a developmental delay? https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions/developmental-disabilities#related 

Choo, Y. Y., Agarwal, P., How, C. H., & Yeleswarapu, S. P. (2019). Developmental delay: Identification and management at primary care level. Singapore Medical Journal, 60(3).

Ozkan, M., Senel, S., Arslan, E. A., & Karacan, C. D. (2012). The socioeconomic and biological risk factors for developmental delay in early childhood. Springer-Verlag

Yale Medicine. (n.d.). Developmental delay. https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/developmental-delay