Global Developmental Delay

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global developmental delay gdd psychology

July 22, 2020 / By thadmin2

What I need to know to help my child with Global Developmental Delay (GDD)

  1. What is Global Developmental Delay? 
  2. What are some common causes and symptoms of Global Developmental Delay (GDD) faced by children and youths? 
  3. What types of therapies do Thrive Psychology Clinic provide for children and youths with GDD?
  4. Parenting a child with GDD
    • Support and resources for parents.


What is Global Developmental Delay (GDD)?

Global Developmental Delay is an umbrella term used when children are significantly delayed in their physical and cognitive development. It is usually diagnosed when a child is delayed in one or more developmental milestones, categorised into motor skills, speech, cognitive skills, and social and emotional development. These milestones are the significant indicators that your child is improving physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially, helping us to understand our child’s overall growth and development. 

To be diagnosed under GDD, the child must also be significantly limited in at least two developmental domains, including, gross motor, vision and fine motor, communication (i.e. speech/hearing/language) and social skills.


What are some common causes and symptoms of Global Developmental Delay (GDD) faced by children and youths?

According to the DSM-5, the Global Developmental Delay diagnosis is set aside for children under the age of 5 when clinical severity point cannot be consistently evaluated during early childhood (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The diagnosis pertains to children who are unable to meet developmental targets in a number of areas of intellectual performance but who are not capable or too young to take part in methodical/standardized evaluations of intellectual functioning. This diagnosis involves reconsideration following a phase of time.

Some common symptoms associated with GDD are as follows:

  • Significant delay (at least 2 standard deviations below the mean with standardized tests) in at least two developmental domains from the following: 
  • Gross or fine motor
  • Speech/language 
  • Cognition 
  • Social/personal 
  • Activities of daily living

As GDD is an umbrella term for children under the age of five who has shown significant delays in developmental milestones, there is no single cause of GDD. However, research has shown that GDD may be caused by:

  • Genetic abnormalities such as syndromes and anomalies to hypo-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Prenatal or perinatal causes:
    • Exposure to teratogens or toxins (tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs)
    • Prematurity
    • Congenital infections
    • Congenital hypothyroidism – normally picked up on newborn screening.
    • Birth trauma
    • Intracranial haemorrhage
  • Postnatal causes:
    • Infection (meningitis, encephalitis)
    • Cranial trauma
    • Central Nervous System (CNS) infections
  • Environmental causes:
    • Poor nutrition
    • Family stress
    • Child abuse or neglect

If your child experiences a delay, early treatment is the best way to help him or her make progress or even to catch up.


Contact us for an appointment to receive a psychological assessment for your child.


What types of therapies do Thrive Psychology Clinic provide for children and youths with Global Developmental Delays?

At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we recognise the uniqueness of each individual. Hence, we are always broadening our therapeutic services to ensure that all our clients’ have their mental well-being cared for in an individualised manner.

Here are some of the therapies that may help a child with Global Developmental Delay:

  • Behavioural Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Neurocognitive Therapy (can be used to complement Behavioural Therapy)
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy

In order to ensure early intervention for children diagnosed with GDD, the diagnosis must take place early. Early intervention has been shown to be crucial and help to improve outcomes in treatable causes of GDD.

To treat Global Developmental Delay in children, neurocognitive therapy is the gold standard therapy to treat children and adolescents with GDD, clinically proven to be effective. Utilising neurocognitive therapy, coupled with behavioural therapy, children and psychologists can actively collaborate to meet set goals, and to also train the child’s memory, control and attention. Central to these two types of therapies is teaching children that their thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all interconnected. 


Contact us to enquire more about our therapies available.


Parenting a child with Global Developmental Delays

Parenting in itself is not an easy feat. At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we recognise the need to support parents and caregivers through:

    • Educating caregivers of children and youths with special needs e.g., workshops and webinars at Thrive Psychology Clinic
    • Providing advice on how to manage their stress
    • Developing their skill in identifying the ABC’s (i.e., antecedent, behaviour, and consequence) such as P.O.W.E.R. in Behavioural Therapy (preview video displayed below)
    • Encouraging caregivers to accept their child with special needs and not feel despair
    • Creating self-help online resources for parents who wish to educate themselves more 
    • Regularly providing complimentary educational resources by subscribing to our mailing list and social media platforms