Identifying disability in children (Early years: what we know)

Early years: what do we know?

Children usually develop through similar stages or steps. We can identify sequences in how most of the children reach a milestone at a particular age (Developmenal chart with images ). For example, most children are able to sit without help when they are 9 months old while others won’t do it before they are one year old. However, some children develop differently and more slowly in some of these areas and may have developmental delays. Developmental delays might be short term, or the first sign of a long-term concern.

The development is very individual. Some children develop more slowly compared to children of the same age, not reaching the developmental milestones at the expected time. They may be delayed in one or several areas – physical, language, cognitive or social-emotional areas. In most cases, it is possible to help the child to progress in the areas where they are delayed by providing lots of opportunities to explore and practice specific skills. We may not have to do anything extraordinary, just make sure that the child has more time and opportunities to practice in a playful and enjoyable way those skills that other children have perhaps acquired easily.

It is very important to learn and understand key milestones of child development to be able observe how is your child developing, what are skills that you can help to your children develop through play and daily interaction and what are the signs that should cause concern and require visit to a doctor.

Note: Download Bebbo Parenting App to access information and tips about the development, engagement and health of your child.

Some children are born with disabilities or conditions that may lead to disability or may develop a disability during the first years of life. These children, just like any other child, need love, support and a protective environment to reach their full potential.

Regardless of the type and origin of disability, the development of a child with a disability follows the same direction as the development of any other child: from dependence towards independence, from self-centeredness to interest in exploring the world and interacting with others. However, a child with a disability may develop slower than other children of the same age or may have difficulties acquiring some skills; follow slightly different steps or progress well in one area of development and less in another. Some children may have complex conditions that affect their overall functioning. Children with disabilities may also communicate and interact with caregivers and other people in a different way, giving subtle cues that are more difficult to understand.

Studies confirm that every child needs a safe, secure and loving environment, with the right nutrition, health care and stimulation from their families. This is especially important for children with disabilities.

Approximately fifteen per cent of the world’s population – at least 1 billion people – have some form of disability, whether present at birth or acquired later in life. Nearly 240 million of them are children. Every 1 in 10 children have disability. While recent data estimated there are around 11 million children[1] with disabilities across Europe and Central Asia, we know that many children with disabilities may not appear in national statistics due to stigma and lack of adequate services for early detection or diagnosis of their disabilities. This statistics also do not include children with developmental delays who also require timely and adequate support”