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Neurodevelopmental Delay


Watching a child grow and develop certain skills is a richly rewarding experience for parents. However, for some children, progression might seem a bit slow, creating concern—even fear—for parents. Most likely, the child is experiencing neurodevelopment delay. Through its Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Children’s Medical Center can make the condition better understood and managed – by providing knowledge for the parents, and individualized treatment for the child.

Why Children's Health℠?

For more than 100 years, Children’s Health has been dedicated to making life better for children afflicted with complex conditions that require optimal care.

Children’s Medical Center has been named one of the top pediatric hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-2019 “Best Children’s Hospitals” survey.

Located in the Dallas/Fort Worth region, Children’s is the nation’s eighth-largest pediatric health care provider. Neurodevelopmental delay is one of our primary concerns. Leveraging the full resources within Children’s Medical Center, our Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities provides comprehensive evaluation, treatment and support for children of all ages. We connect families with professionals in the field and help coordinate a wide range of services in the school and community.



Early Action is Critical

The earlier your child is tested and diagnosed the better. Early diagnosis can lead to earlier access to the proper course of treatment and, in turn, enhanced quality of life for your baby.

If the physician suspects any problems with your child’s development, she may refer the case to an expert who can take your child through a much more extensive battery of tests. This is called developmental evaluation.

Follow-up treatment generally includes:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational therapy to enable children to learn and enhance fine motor skills needed for daily living (e.g., dressing, eating, and bathing)
  • Physical therapy to enhance physical capabilities (e.g., walking, jumping, balance, holding objects)
  • Behavior therapy that minimizes and corrects negative behaviors such as throwing tantrums, refusal to interact socially, or hitting others

Medications or surgery are sometimes advised, but this is determined by the root cause of a child’s developmental problems.

The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities

The Children’s Medical Center’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities offers comprehensive services for children up to the age of 18 who may have autism or other neurodevelopmental disabilities. The Center focuses primarily on two areas:

  • Early identification and treatment of autism spectrum disorder
  • Treating the most medically complex cases of autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities

Multiple neurodevelopmental disorders can cause intellectual disability and many of these can lead to behaviors in children similar to symptoms found in autism. The Center provides full-spectrum medical care for all forms of developmental disabilities including:

  • Chromosomal/genetic abnormality
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Microcephaly
  • Developmental regression
  • Traumatic brain injuries

The physicians may order tests including:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), to measure the brain’s electrical activity
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to create images of internal organs
  • Genetic testing, to diagnose and treat your child’s conditions

Medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms once a diagnosis has been determined.

Developmental Delay – Signs and Causes

A parent should witness a child developing certain skills at different stages of life. By two months, a child should start gurgling. By one year of age, the child should be able to speak single words. If your child isn’t displaying certain developmental “milestones” at an appropriate age (others include sitting up, crawling, holding things, even throwing tantrums), he may be affected by neurodevelopmental delay. Your child’s doctor may alert you to certain “red flags” during regular check-ups.

Causes are varied. Delay can be genetic, or related to low birth weight, toxin exposure before birth (from a mother’s smoking habits or alcohol intake), or result from conditions such as cerebral palsy or autism. Also, accidents can be a factor. Head trauma also can lead to a related condition called regression, where it appears the child is taking backward steps in development.