Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development


Atypical Development Overview

Atypical development

Child development exists on a continuum. The development of most children falls somewhere in the “middle” of that continuum. A child is described as developing atypically when one of two situations arises:

  • A child reaches developmental milestones earlier than other children his/her age
  • A child reaches developmental milestones later than other children his/her age

It is very important to pay attention to children whose development is just a little bit different. They are referred to as “gray area” children because for the most part, their development is typical. This is why they may not qualify to receive services in the developmental areas in which they may be struggling, especially during their school years. It is important to monitor their progress and especially watch those areas in which they may be developing typically, but lagging a bit behind their peers. Here are a few examples:

  • A child may have a lot of words in his vocabulary, but may still struggle with articulation or pragmatics.
  • A child may walk to get to where he/she needs to get, but he/she may still take much longer than other children to get to his/her destination.

It is also quite important to pay attention to children with moderate to severe delays, or who have multiple disabilities. These children are usually identified quite early in life and end up receiving a wide variety of services. Intervention should be focused on providing as much support as possible to both the child and his/her family, so that the child can  be active and participate in his/her community.

The focus of intervention for children with severe developmental delays may be different from intervention for other children. A seriously involved child may never learn how to read or walk, but with proper intervention, he/she may learn how to eat or use the toilet on his/her own. This will make a huge difference in his/her life and the lives of those who care for him/her.

After the family has received information about intervention support, parents make a decision on what types of services to accept. They should be supported in any decision they make.

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March 12, 2011   No Comments