Developmental Delays

Children with developmental delays are significantly behind the expected milestones for their age. The delay may be in one or multiple areas of development (Global Developmental Delay). This may be short-lived, such as a physical delay after a long period of hospitalisation. Early intervention can help some children to catch up on any lagging skills.

There is no one cause of developmental delays, but some risk factors include:

  • Complications at birth: Being born prematurely, low birth weight; not getting enough oxygen at birth.
  • Environmental issues: Lead poisoning; poor nutrition; exposure to alcohol or drugs before birth; difficult family situations; trauma.
  • Other medical conditions: Chronic ear infections; visual problems; illnesses, conditions, or injuries that have a significant and long-term effect on a child’s day-to-day activities.

The main areas of developmental are:

Fine and gross motor skills: This is the ability to use small muscles (fine motor) particularly in the hands, and large muscles (gross motor) in the body. Babies use fine motor skills to grasp objects. Toddlers and pre-schoolers use these skills to do tasks such as hold utensils, work with objects and draw. Babies use gross motor skills to sit up, roll over and crawl. Older children use them to do things like jump, run and climb stairs.

Activities of daily living: This is the ability to perform everyday tasks and activities. For children, this includes eating, dressing and bathing themselves.

Cognitive (or thinking) skills: This is the ability to think through tasks, learn and solve problems. The growing child uses their senses to explore the world around them with their eyes, ears and hands. In toddlers, it also includes things like learning to count, matching and sorting objects, and learning new words.

Social and emotional skills: This area of development includes being able to regulate emotions and express them in an acceptable way. It also includes interaction and co-operation with others. Early skills learnt by babies include smiling at others and making sounds to communicate their needs. In toddlers and pre-schoolers, it means being able to ask for help, show and express feelings and get along with others.

Speech and language skills: This includes using and understanding language in various contexts. As a child develops, they learn to understand what’s said and can use words in ways that others are able to understand.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact us:

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How can KMA help?


Our specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapists can carry out an assessment of your child’s developmental skills.

We use a range of standardised tests and assessments which are specifically designed for use with children. Assessments can be carried out to:

  • help determine medical, developmental or educational diagnosis (in co-operation with other relevant professionals)
  • document developmental, functional and participation status
  • plan intervention programmes
  • measure progress and outcomes


KMA will produce a detailed yet accessible report of the assessment. The report will provide a summary of your child’s abilities, how their disability is impacting on their function, and recommendations that may help with the challenges faced. We aim to get the report back to you within 10 working days of the assessment.


Our Occupational Therapists are highly trained and experienced and are passionate about providing evidence-based interventions to improve functional performance. Each treatment plan will be individual, underpinned by occupational therapy philosophy, taking a person-centred and strengths-based approach. Our ultimate aim is to help a person to achieve their goals and improve their functional performance. We pride ourselves on being experts when it comes to occupational therapy for children.

The occupational therapist will work with you and your child to develop their skills and cope with day to day demands. Therapy will focus on improving function and developing skills in daily activities such as taking part in school-based activities and becoming more independent at home. Occupational therapy for children will also encourage your child to use their strengths and develop their confidence and self-esteem.

Examples of common therapy aims include:-

  • Handwriting support
  • Postural assessment and strategies
  • Fatigue management
  • Motor / movement planning and sequencing
  • Strength and muscle tone improvement
  • Improving their ability to play sports e.g throw and catch
  • Working with the school to develop strategies and appropriate adaptations
  • Support and training for school staff to promote understanding
  • Focused work on improving independence in daily tasks such as washing and dressing.

Do you know someone who has difficulty…?

  • Meeting their motor milestones e.g. sitting unsupported or crawling?

  • Taking part in school activities?

  • Keeping up with their peers in school, sports or play?

  • Learning to wash and dress independently?