LD Network

Global Development Delay

Global Developmental Delay, or GDD, is a term used when a child shows delays across several areas of development. Children with GDD take longer to reach developmental milestones, such as walking and talking.

In this blog, we explain the symptoms of Global Development Delay and the support and treatment that can improve an individual’s quality of life. LD Network provides person-centred support for individuals with GDD and helps those we serve to live full and meaningful lives.

Table of Contents

What is Global Developmental Delay (GDD)?

Global Development Delay (GDD) is a term that characterises significantly delayed cognitive and physical development in children.

Babies and children learn essential skills as they group up, known as developmental milestones. Those skills include learning:

  • Walking

  • Social interaction

  • Talking

  • Communication

  • Movement skills

  • Emotional interaction

Even though every child reaches these developmental milestones at different times, milestones are usually developed by a predictable age. However, a child with a Global Development Delay may not reach two or more milestones until much later.

Global Developmental Delay in Children

Some signs of Global Developmental Delay in babies and children are shown below:

  • By 3 to 4 months: a baby doesn’t respond to loud noises, doesn’t babble, and doesn’t try to imitate sounds

  • By seven months: a baby doesn’t respond to sounds

  • By one year: a child doesn’t use any single words, for example, ‘mama’

  • By two years: a child cannot speak at least 15 words, doesn’t use two-word phrases without repetition, can only imitate speech and doesn’t use speech to communicate more than immediate needs

It’s important to note that development delays are usually identified when children are younger than five.

Global Developmental Delay in Adults

Global Developmental Delay first presents in babies and children. However, it can often extend into adulthood, becoming a permanent disability or symptom of developmental disabilities. In cases like that, genetic counselling can help individuals understand their disability and find methods to overcome any challenges.

Symptoms of Global Developmental delay (GDD)

There are different signs and symptoms of Global Development Delay, which may vary depending on the specific characteristics of children.

Common signs of Global Development Delay include but are not limited to:

  • Noticeable delays in motor skills while learning to crawl and walk

  • Difficulty with fine motor skills

  • Language and communication delays

  • Difficulty understanding communication

  • Difficulty with problem-solving skills

  • Difficulty with social skills

  • Challenges with memory

  • Need for help with everyday tasks

  • Challenges with education

It’s vital to note that some signs are noticeable earlier in development, while others may become obvious when a child is school-age. Also, all children develop at different rates, so some signs of GDD may be natural for a child and won’t be a cause for concern. However, seeking an assessment for a child can ensure they receive the support they need.

What Are Developmental Milestones?

Developmental milestones are a set of skills, goals or tasks that most children can do at a specific age range. These milestones occur across different areas of development. Examples of developmental milestones include:

  • Motor skills: sitting up, rolling, picking up small objects

  • Speech and language: babbling, imitating speech and identifying sounds

  • Cognitive skills: learning new things, processing information, and remembering things

  • Social and emotional skills: interacting with others, understanding and responding to the needs and feelings of others

The developmental milestones are a guide for doctors to help identify children who may be at risk for developmental delay. This is crucial for providing proper and customised support in overcoming the challenges of GDD.

What Causes Global Developmental Delay?

The cause of Global Developmental Delay is different for everyone. In some cases, we might not know the exact cause. However, common causes of GDD are genetic factors, like Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome (FXS).

Global Developmental Delay can also be caused by:

  • Premature birth

  • Infections

  • Metabolic disorders

  • Complications during pregnancy or birth

Global Developmental Delays may also be a symptom of:

In cases where GDD is a symptom of a learning disability, individuals may require further support and help from:

  • Occupational therapists

  • Psychiatrists

  • Speech therapists

  • Language therapists

Risk Factors of Global Development Delay

Health practitioners are still studying the relish factors associated with developmental delays. However, some have been discovered, and they include:

  • Maternal diseases during pregnancy like rubella and chickenpox. The above-listed ailments are risk factors of cerebral palsy.
  • The use or abuse of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.
  • Insufficient oxygen to the baby during childbirth.
  • Shaken baby syndrome.
  • Undernutrition and malnutrition.
  • Exposure to poisonous substances like mercury and lead.
  • Genetic conditions like Fragile X syndrome, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Premature birth.
  • Hearing and vision disorders.
  • Untreated childhood sicknesses like meningitis and whooping cough.

Global development delays in children should be treated as early as possible.

Global Developmental Delay Diagnosis

It’s crucial to remember that the development of every child is unique, and it can happen at a different pace. Parents must also know the potential signs of GDD so they can consult for further assessment and testing.

Usually, specialists, paediatricians, or developmental psychologists regularly assess a child’s development before they give a diagnosis. They ask questions or conduct a test to identify if a child meets the development milestones. A child should see a speech, language, or occupational therapist for further evaluation and support. There are also cases when genetic tests are done to see if there is a genetic cause for the delay.

An early diagnosis can ensure proper support sooner and improve an individual’s quality of life.

The Link Between GDD and Intellectual Disability (ID)

Global Developmental Delay refers to a significant delay in children’s two or more developmental domains.

In comparison, an intellectual disability, also known as a learning disability, involves challenges and difficulties with learning and understanding complex information. It can affect intellectual functioning (learning and reasoning) and adaptive functioning (communication and independent living). A person with developmental delays in multiple development domains is more likely to have an intellectual disability.

Doctors can identify whether a child has GDD, ID, or both, through assessments, tests and evaluations. With the right diagnosis, a person can get efficient help and support.

Global Developmental Delay Treatment

Additional support can be beneficial for individuals with Global Developmental Delay. Some individuals may need support with educational and day-to-day challenges.

Professionals involved in the treatment of GDD include:

  • Speech and language therapists – speech and language therapists help with understanding language and learning how to produce sounds

  • Physical therapists – physical therapists help support the development of gross motor skills

  • Vision therapists – vision therapists are helpful for the development of vision and visually integrated sensory skills

  • Occupational therapists – occupational therapy is beneficial in supporting fine motor skills, sensory processing, and self-care skills

  • Developmental paediatricians – can help identify any concerns and provide treatment options for individuals

  • Educational support – can help provide further education support to individuals

  • Psychiatrists – can provide emotional, social and behaviour support

How Does LD Network Support People With Global Developmental Delay (GDD)?

LD Network transforms care for the better and supports individuals with complex needs. We provide tailored and compassionate care to individuals with Global Developmental Delay, helping everyone we serve live a meaningful life.

Our team of support workers provide unparalleled care rooted in PBS principles. We personalise our treatment plans to ensure that we meet the needs of the people we serve. LD Network delivers consistency and continuity of care.

Our offices are based in Exeter and Bristol. To find out more, contact us today.