Early intervention

Developmental Delays by the Numbers

By Amanda Morin

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How common are developmental delays? Here are some facts you may not know about these serious delays in children.

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Developmental Delays by the Numbers

A developmental delay is more than just being “a little behind.” Children with developmental delays significantly lag behind in doing things other kids their age can do.

According to parent reports, close to 4 percent of kids between 2 and 11 are diagnosed with a developmental delay.

Boys are more likely than girls to have (or be at risk for) a developmental delay. This is true even though health-care providers screen boys and girls equally.

Nearly 400,000 children between 3 and 9 receive intervention services for developmental delays.

More than two percent of children between 6 and 11 previously had developmental delays but no longer do, according to parents. Some kids make big gains in skills through early intervention and treatment. Other kids are diagnosed with a more specic disability when they reach school age. At that point, they’re no
longer classied as having a developmental delay.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that a child with a developmental delay can receive special education services until age 9. But as children get older, the term “developmental delay” is used less often. Fewer than 50 percent of states use it as a qualifying diagnosis for 9-year-olds.
Graphic of Developmental Delays by the Numbers
Graphic of Developmental Delays by the Numbers

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Elizabeth Harstad

Elizabeth Harstad, M.D., M.P.H., is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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