What disabilities and developmental challenges are diagnosed in young children?

All children are unique and reach developmental milestones at different times. Some children will seem to show delays but then ‘catch up’. It can be hard for health professionals to predict how development will unfold over time.

The most common developmental problems seen in young children include the following and you can find out more information about each of these on AllPlay Learn:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Physical disability
  • Blind and low vision
  • Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing
  • Communication and language disorders
  • Developmental delay
  • Autism
  • Anxiety - selective mutism or separation anxiety
  • Do you have concerns about a child’s development?

    Parents know their child best so they are often the first to notice a challenge with their child’s development. If parents are concerned about their child, they may come to you for professional advice. Your anecdotal records for children’s planning and practice may show a child's strengths, abilities, and interests, as well as a child's challenges. You are therefore in a good position to discuss concerns about a child’s development and learning, and to discuss these with the family and/or to contact Preschool Field Officers (PSFO) for professional support and advice.

    The developmental guidelines provided by the Department of Education and Training can be used as a general indication of when to suggest to families that they seek additional support from their Maternal and Child Health nurse or general practitioner (GP):

  • Babies: Babies development concerns
  • Toddlers: Toddlers development concerns
  • Three to four year olds: Child development concerns

    Assessment and diagnosis for young children may take place at different ages and stages. There are many factors which might influence whether a child undergoes assessment and whether they receive a diagnosis.

    A Maternal and Child health nurse might refer the family to a GP, and a GP might refer the family to a paediatrician or allied health staff such as a psychologist, speech pathologist or occupational therapist. Sometimes allied health staff might attend the early childhood education and care setting to observe the child and speak to you about your own observations of the child.

  • Link to AllPlay Learn's early years stories with text