Developmental Delay

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What is Developmental Delay?

Kids don’t develop skills on a strict timetable. For example, some babies start walking as young as 9 months, while others don’t take their first steps until 15 months. Both of those babies are within the range of typical development. Those types of short-lived delays—when kids catch up on their own—aren’t usually cause for concern.

But a developmental delay is more than just being “slower to develop” or “a little behind.” It means your child is continually behind in skills other kids his age have.

For example, a baby who isn’t rolling over by 4 months may be just a little behind in that one skill. But if he also isn’t able to hold his head up and push up when lying on his tummy, he’s behind in more than one motor skill. That’s a sign of a developmental delay. 


What to expect at a developmental assessment

During a developmental assessment you will be asked to provide information about

  • Your child's medical history including the pregnancy history
  • Information about medical conditions including developmental delays and learning difficulties that run in the family
  • Your child's current developmental skills and a timeline of when these skills developed

The assessment will also include a physical exam which will include a play-based assessment of your child's skills. Information from teachers, daycare providers, other family members and therapists is a valuable contribution to the assessment. In some cases, further information will be needed to establish a diagnosis.

What are possible diagnoses in children with developmental delay?

* These diagnoses cannot be made by an MD. They can be made by a psychologist through a formalized assessment such as a psychoeducational assessment or neuropsychological assessment.

What is the cause of my child's developmental delay?

The developmental diagnoses listed above reflect changes in the way your child's brain functions. Often these changes are 'invisible' in that they do not show up on brain scans or other medical testing. A thorough history and physical exam can sometimes lead to a specific cause of developmental delay such as a genetic, metabolic or structural condition. Most often, there is no cause ever identified with medical testing.

What programs and services are available for my child?

Children with developmental delays may qualify for a variety of services and supports within the Niagara Region. Additional funding may be needed for some of the programs listed.

Niagara Children's Centre (Preschool therapy)

Niagara Region Children's Services

CONTACT Niagara Developmental Services (Parents can self-refer)

Bethesda Childrens Services

Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara

Brock Learning Lab

Community Living

Funding supports for children with developmental delays:

(Qualification for the programs below may be based on severity and not all children will qualify)

Camps and Community Activities

Directory of Camps and Activities

Therapeutic Horseback Riding: I Can-T.E.R and Niagara Equinability

Music Therapy in Niagara

Kids First YMCA

Brock Supporting Neurodiversity through Adaptive Programming

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