What is meant by a Developmental Delay? When considering whether a child is delayed in his or her development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, five areas of development are considered:
Communication-speech OR language skills
Motor-gross motor or fine motor skills
Cognitive skills or general intelligence
Data in these five areas is considered when determining whether a child has a developmental delay in need of specially designed instruction. The category of Developmental Delay can only be utilized for a child who is under the age of nine.
At Berea Community School, all children entering preschool or kindergarten are screened in these five areas. If the screening suggests possible delays in any of the five areas, a referral is completed and further assessment is suggested. Sometimes teachers or parents of a child in the primary becomes concerned that the child has a developmental delay. A referral can be initiated at this point in the child's educational career as well.
When there is concern about a possible delay in speach or language, the speech therapist is generally asked to assess the child's skills. When there is concern about motor skills, usually the occupational therapist completes the further assessment although the school psychologist is also qualified to complete assessment in this area to determine whether there is a developmental delay. If a child is not learning concepts quickly, cognitive skills may be assessed. At young ages, assessment in this area is considered a cognitive indicator. Intellectual ability is not a stable trait until about the age of nine. If there is concern regarding adaptive behavior or social-emotional skills, parents/caregivers and teachers will be asked to complete rating forms. The school psychologist will also conduct observations of the child in various school settings.
You may have noticed that academic performance is not one of the areas assessed for a Developmental Delay. That is because the federal guidelines do not allow for academic performance to be considered as one of the areas indicating a developmental delay. Sometimes weaknesses in academic skills may be caused by a delay in one of the five areas but struggling with academics alone does not allow for special education services under the category of development delay.
If you have a concern that a child you know may have a developmental delay in need of specially designed instruction, you may contact the child's teacher, the elementary guidance counselor, Cindy Richardson (986-4065) or the Director of Exceptional Children Services, Jennifer Whitt (986-3249).