Can a Child Outgrow Global Developmental Delay?

Can a Child Outgrow Global Developmental Delay?

Many children will show signs of developmental progress, but for some these milestones may come much later than others, meaning there is a gap between them and other children. 

Global developmental delay, also known as early developmental impairment, refers to a young child who is delayed in all areas of their development. This can include elements such as walking, sitting, and talking. 

In this blog, our child physiotherapists will discuss what global developmental delay is, how to spot the symptoms, how developmental delay may affect your child and how you can support them to overcome these barriers.

Can a child outgrow global developmental delay? For some children, their developmental delay can be short term, improved through support in physiotherapy. For others, developmental delay is caused by a learning disability, which means that the child’s brain works differently to other children. 

This means they may find it harder to learn and complete developmental tasks. Due to this, a child will find it difficult to ‘outgrow’ this delay and over time the developmental gap will grow larger between them and other children the same age.

Read on to learn more about global developmental delay, the symptoms that you can look for, and how specialised physiotherapy can help your child progress with their development.

What Is Global Developmental Delay?

Global developmental delay, also known as early developmental impairment, describes a child or baby who is significantly delayed in one or all areas of their development. 

It is typical for children and babies to reach certain developmental milestones around certain ages, this can include elements such as walking and talking. If a child has a global developmental delay this means that they will reach these milestones much later than the average child will. If your unsure about when your child should be reaching certain milestones check out this comprehensive chart which highlights what key development stages your child should be reaching at certain ages.

What Are The Different Types of Child Development? 

A child’s development milestones can be grouped into four different categories. These are:

  • Motor Development– This refers to both fine motor skills, such as grabbing objects, and gross motor skills, such as rolling over and crawling.
  • Cognitive Development– This is a child’s ability to learn new things, remember things, as well as process information. 
  • Emotional Development– This is the ability to respond to others’ feelings and needs as well as develop their own emotions and personality traits.
  • Speech Development– This refers to children understanding communication more clearly both how to do it, through babbling and mumbling, as well as what others are saying when communicated with.
Toe walking child sat on a chair

What Causes Global Developmental Delay?

Around 1-3% of children are affected by global developmental delay, the most 

common cause of this for people includes but is not limited to:

  • Genetic or chromosomal abnormality
  • Premature birth,
  • Premature infections such as meningitis. 
  • Abnormalities with the development of the brain or spinal cord

What Are The Signs of Global Developmental Delay?

There are many symptoms of global developmental delay that you, as either a parent or carer, should be able to identify to understand if your child requires additional support with their development. Some of the most common signs include but are not limited to:

  • The child is struggling to sit up, crawl or walk at the typical age they should be. This may include things such as tip-toe walking, if you want to find out more about the signs of tip-toe walking check out our recent blog.
  • Struggling with both fine and gross motor skills
  • Feeding delay 
  • Aggressive behaviour patterns when trying to cope with a difficult situation 
  • Poor social and communication skills 

If your child’s global developmental delay persists beyond the age of 5 this is when it would be determined as either a long-term learning disability or intellectual disability. 

How Do You Treat Global Developmental Delay?

There are several additional support aids available that can help with global developmental delay and these services aim to help to target specific developmental issues, depending on the child’s needs, to help improve their overall quality of life. We’ve highlighted in more detail the different types of services available to help support your child with global developmental delay. 

Speech Therapy 

If your child is delayed in their language and speech development then they may benefit from speech therapy. This type of therapy aims to improve your child’s language and speech by working to improve their oral motor skills with exercises, building their vocabulary whilst also improving their communication skills through listening.

Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapists work with your children to improve their quality of life in day-to-day situations by helping them with all aspects of their learning. This can include helping them to develop better fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination for everyday tasks such as grabbing and handwriting. Occupational therapists can also help develop positive behaviours in situations a child may find frustrating and difficult, helping to improve both their social skills and communication with others.


One of the most common problems for children suffering from global developmental delay is they have difficulty with both their fine and gross motor skills.  Physiotherapy allows them to target and develop these fine/gross motor skills in a fun and engaging way, whether that be through hydrotherapy or fun exercise sets. 

Physiotherapy gives children the opportunity to learn to be more physically active and independent. To find out what other conditions physiotherapy can help with, why not check out our recent blog

At Therapy Stars we offer a range of excellent state-of-the-art physiotherapy services for children, including intensive physiotherapy. To find out more about how we could help your child, contact us today.

Small baby during a physiotherapy session

Physiotherapy for Global Developmental Delay At Therapy Stars 

Physiotherapy is extremely beneficial for children and young people diagnosed with a global developmental delay, especially those struggling with their fine and gross motor skills. At Therapy Stars we offer a number of services to make physiotherapy fun and engaging for your child including, hydrotherapy and intensive physiotherapy.

Our expert physiotherapists will work alongside your child’s needs to give them the knowledge, skills and information they need to achieve their set goals. To find out more about working with our team, contact us today.