Last week, if you recall, we began this discussion by emphasizing the unbelievable process whereby children enter the world and immediately begin making sense of it. I made the point that children learn more in the first five years of their lives than they do for the rest of their lives. It is an incredibly complex process, and it is dependent on two primary things; first, the opportunities provided for the child; and second, normal ability, from birth, to begin and sustain cognitive development. As such, anything that impedes the child's ability or inhibits their exposure to the world presents an increased risk for developmental delay. Keep those thoughts in mind as we consider some of the "ability" factors that can impact, in a negative manner, a child's developmental progress.
It is helpful to acknowledge that there are many factors, prior to a child’s birth, that equip a child for typical skill mastery. Now, keep in mind that for the most part, a healthy mother brings a healthy child into the world. However, good prenatal care is not a 100% guarantee that a child will possess the ability to begin the process of skill mastery. There are numerous factors, some genetic, some related to problematic choices made by the mother and some as a result of a disease process in the mother and or the child, that enhance the potential for developmental problems.
The presence of a genetic anomaly, particularly one known to include developmental delay, must be kept in mind. Prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol is surely on the list of risk factors for atypical development. Another important consideration is prematurity. Premature and low birth weight infants are at enhanced risk for developmental delay, pending the degree of prematurity, birth weight, and other complicating medical factors. Birth injuries that include any degree of cranial bleeding, lack of oxygen, or head trauma must likewise be considered as risk factors. Frankly, the list of potential factors that relate to impeding the child's ability to make sense of the world is extensive. However, please note that the presence of any of these factors increases risk. Their presence does not guarantee problems in development.
All of these considerations have a potential impact on a child’s ability to make sense of the world.
Should there be questions as it relates to these factors (and others) a developmental specialist should be consulted as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact the Achieve Center if you have any questions.
The Achieve Center blog is written by the professionals who are focused on children's mental health.