7 effective ways to know that your child has developmental delays

As a parent, it is important to monitor your child’s development to ensure they are meeting age-appropriate milestones. Developmental delays can be a concern and identifying them early on can help with early intervention and treatment. Here are seven effective ways to know if your child has developmental delays:

  1. Missed Milestones
  2. Communication Difficulties
  3. Cognitive and Learning Difficulties
  4. Social and Emotional Difficulties
  5. Motor Skill Difficulties
  6. Physical Symptoms 
  7. Family History

1) Missed Milestones

One of the most significant indicators to know that your child has developmental delays is that they are unable to reach the developmental milestones expected of their age. 

What are developmental milestones?

Developmental milestones are age-specific skills and behaviors that children typically learn or achieve by a certain age. 

For instance, the child may start crawling or wave hello or bye-bye to the parent. As they grow up, they learn skills like walking, sitting, talking, and socializing and playing with other children. 

If your child is not reaching these milestones within a reasonable timeframe, it is a red flag that they may have developmental delays.

2) Communication Difficulties 

Communication is critical in early childhood development. If your child has difficulty communicating, such as not speaking at all or using very few words, not understanding simple instructions, not responding when their name is called, or has difficulty expressing themselves, it may be an indicator of a developmental delay.

Children face two communication challenges that parents should be aware of:

  • Speech Delay 
  • Language Delay 

Speech Delay: Children who have speech delay face difficulty in making sounds and saying words. They also face difficulty in pronouncing alphabets or words properly. 

Language Delay: Children who have language delay know how to make basic sounds and words. With the limited vocabulary, their pronunciations are understandable by the parent or caregiver. They face difficulty in understanding what is being told or read to them. When it comes to expressing verbally, they get confused about how to put the words together to form a sentence.  

Children with speech and language delays use challenging behaviors such as crying, screaming, head-banging, and so on to express their unmet wants and needs to their parents when they cannot verbally or non-verbally communicate those needs.

3) Cognitive and learning difficulties

If your child is experiencing difficulties in areas such as memory, attention span, problem-solving, or learning, it may show a developmental delay. Some children may struggle with specific skills, like reading or math, while others may find it difficult to follow instructions or understand concepts.

Cognitive delays and learning difficulties can have an impact on a child’s intellectual functioning, interfering with awareness and causing learning difficulties. These signs become noticeable when the child begins their schooling.

Children with cognitive delays may also struggle to communicate and play with other children. It also affects their ability to make and maintain friendships. 

4) Social and emotional difficulties

Children with developmental delays may experience difficulty with social and emotional skills. For example, they may struggle to make friends or interact appropriately with others. 

Social and emotional difficulties can affect a child’s overall well-being and ability to function in their day-to-day life. The difficulties they face are:

  • Unable to communicate their needs and wants.
  • Not understanding social cues.
  • Regulating their tough emotions.

Children with developmental delays may struggle with social interactions, leading to isolation and a lack of connection with peers. They may also have difficulty understanding social situations and interpreting nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.

They may also display extreme behavior or be overly withdrawn.

5) Motor Skill Difficulties

Motor skills involve both gross motor skills (such as crawling, walking, or running) and fine motor skills (such as writing or drawing). A child with developmental delays may experience difficulties in one or both of these areas. They may struggle with balance, coordination, or dexterity.

6) Physical Symptoms

Certain physical symptoms can also show developmental delays. These may include unusualnesses in posture or gait, such as toe-walking or difficulty holding up their head. Additionally, delayed physical growth or slow weight gain may indicate an underlying developmental issue.

7) Family History 

Finally, it is worth considering family history when assessing your child’s development. Some developmental delays are genetic, and if there is a family history of conditions such as autism, ADHD, or other behavioral, social and emotional delays, it may increase the likelihood of your child experiencing similar developmental delays.


There are seven effective ways through which you can determine your child has developmental delays: missed milestones, communication difficulties, cognitive and learning difficulties, social and emotional difficulties, motor skill difficulties, physical symptoms and family history. 

Identifying developmental delays early on is critical in ensuring that children receive the necessary interventions and support. If you notice any of the signs discussed above, it is essential to consult with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a specialist for further assessment. Remember, early identification and treatment can make a significant difference in your child’s development and overall quality of life.

Take a Butterfly Learnings Screening Test 

Dear parent, if you think your child is showing the symptoms of developmental delays. You can take a screening test on your own. 

The clinical experts of Butterfly Learnings have developed a digital questionnaire called M-CHAT. It is a screening scale that is designed to find out if a child between 18-36 months has developmental delays or not. 

Here, you can take your child’s assessment on your own by simply selecting the options in the answers. The questions are about whether your child is reaching developmental milestones that are expected of their age. 

While selecting an option, make sure they align with your observations and experiences. 

After conducting the self-assessment in the M-CHAT, if your child has a high-risk score, then please consult your child’s doctor immediately or get a diagnosis performed by a child specialist. 

Applied Behavior Analysis: an effective therapy for child development

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is therapy for children who have developmental delays or show challenging behaviors. The Therapy focuses on teaching functional skills and behaviors that help children in their daily life. 

The effectiveness of ABA Therapy is scientifically proven. It is based on the principle of positive reinforcement and behavior-based techniques that improve the child’s communication skills, social skills, emotion regulation, imitation skills and play skills.

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