Each child develops at his or her own pace, but there are established time frames for a child to reach developmental milestones. If a child fails to reach a developmental milestone within a normal amount of time, he or she is considered to have a development delay. The most common childhood development issues involve language and speech development, motor skills, social and emotional development and cognitive thinking. A child who has development issues might have problems in one or more of these categories. Any child who shows signs of development issues needs to see a medical professional for treatment; children do not just "grow out of" development issues.
The most common childhood development issues involve language and speech development. If a child does not reach the milestones in this area for his or her age group, the child's pediatrician will refer him or her to a speech-language pathologist for treatment. Language and speech development delays might be caused by hearing problems, growing up in a bilingual home, an inability to properly use the muscles that control speech, learning disabilities or autism.
Motor skills are categorized as either gross motor skills, which involve movement of the whole body, or fine motor skills, which require precise movements. Impaired motor skill development prevents a child from moving and coordinating his or her body in the proper way. Common causes of motor skill delays include lack of stimulation as an infant, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and a genetic defect that keeps the muscles from coordinating in the right way. Children who have motor skill development issues require physical therapy to help improve their movements.
Problems with social and emotional skills are one of the more common childhood development issues. These issues involve the inability of a child to interact with adults or peers in a way that is appropriate for his or her age group. Developmentally delayed social and emotional skills might form because the child was neglected as an infant, because of cognitive problems or because of a pervasive development disorder such as autism. Early therapy is essential in treating this group of developmental issues.
Cognitive delays involve problems with a child being able to process thoughts in a way that other children of the same age group can. A cognitive development issue might cause a learning disability. Cognitive delays might be the result of a genetic defect, severe neglect from caregivers as an infant or medical problems as a newborn.
Childhood development issues require medical attention. Early treatment can improve functioning and development in the cases of many problems. Pediatricians usually work with parents to discover signs that a development issue might be present.