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5 Things to Know About Adopting a Child With Developmental Delays

As prospective adoptive families learn more about adoption and the children who are waiting to join families, they may frequently run into the term “developmental delays.” But what does this mean, exactly?

Developmental delays can present in many different ways, often encompass unknowns in a child’s development, and are different for every child.

Here are five things to know about adopting a child with developmental delays:

  1. “Developmental delays” is a broad term that can describe anything from late speech to learning disabilities. It may also be used to describe a child who has hit milestones like crawling or walking at a later-than-average age.
  2. Developmental delays are usually caused by a lack of one-on-one attention between a child and an adult in the earliest phases of life, and they are common in children who have lived in orphanages.
  3. Speech and language delays are very common among adopted children, since these skills form best when a child receives lots of individualized attention from birth to 5. 
  4. Many adopted children have huge growth spurts during their first year with their family. A child’s physical, emotional and developmental changes can be astonishing! 
  5. Some developmental delays can be overcome with early intervention, including speech, physical and occupational therapies. Others may be life-long, and adoptive families should have access to long-term support and resources their child may need.
smiling girl with Down syndrome waiting to be adopted

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