Developmental delay refers only to children between the ages of 0 and 8 years. It is a primary area of exceptionality when the cause of a child's developmental lag is unknown.
Developmental delay is defined as a condition which represents a significant delay in the process of development. It does not refer to a condition in which the child is slightly or momentarily lagging in development. The presence of developmental delay is an indication that the process of development is significantly affected and that without special intervention it is likely that the child's ability to attain normal developmental milestones and educational performance at school would be jeopardized. Normal development falls within a range and children whose maturation falls outside this range could be provided with special education supports. More precisely these children have skills deficits including specific delays in language, perception, metacognition, social, emotional, and/or motor development.
This definition is designed to promote prevention and early intervention services during the primary years. Early identification and intense interventions are the keys to eliminating developmental delay as a primary need. Where the developmental delay persists beyond 8 years of age, the reason(s) is usually known.
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