Monthly Archives

December 2021

What is GDD and how common is it?

GDD (Global Development Delay) is a slower progression of development, usually affecting two or more of the cognitive, social, physical and speech milestones that a child reaches. Our team manager, Zoya recently held a training session with our foster carers to give them further insight into GDD and what it means.

Cognitive – relating to a child’s ability to learn and solve problems.

Social and emotional – relating to a child;s ability to interact with others as well as self-control and self-help skills.

Speech and language – the ability to use and understand language and all forms of communication.

Fine motor skills – control of fingers and use of small objects such as cutlery and pens, etc.

Gross motor skills – control of large muscles resulting in the ability to walk, sit, etc.

A diagnosis of GDD means that a child has not reached two or more milestones in all five areas of development. As with developmental delay, GDD is a spectrum. The number of areas in which a child is delayed varies greatly within the overall diagnosis. However, in all cases GDD will result in special educational needs (SEN).

In our experience, GDD is likely to have a significant impact on a child’s ability to access education and the way in which they are educated. In some cases SEN support is sufficient enough to help, but in many cases Education, Health and Care Plan will be necessary.

What are the components of a structured assessment approach to a child with developmental delay?

Below are the factors taken into consideration when assessing whether a child has GDD.


  • Family History – e.g. recurrent spontaneous miscarriages, stillbirth, medical history, exposure to potential teratogens, for example antidepressants or binge drinking in the first trimester.

  • Nicotine and illicit drugs

  • Early neonatal events – complications of delivery, hypoglycaemia

  • Family history of neurological disorders

  • Learning or developmental problems

Physical examination

  • Growth parameters

  • Dysmorphism

  • Neurological signs

  • Hearing assessment

Developmental assessment

  • Health visitor – your health visiting team will send you a questionnaire, known as the “Ages and Stages Questionnaire” or ASQ-3 to fill in before your child’s 9 to 12 month and 2 year developmental reviews. Older children are reviewed at different intervals, depending on the leading professional.

Targeted tests

  • IQ test for older children

  • Play tests for younger children

  • Gait test,

  • Hearing and visual test

  • Genetic and blood tests (in the case of suspected syndromes)

What are some of the therapies used for Developmental Delays

  • Physical Therapy – physical therapy is often helpful for children with delays in gross motor skills.

  • Occupational Therapy – this can address fine motor skills, sensory processing and self-help issues.

  • Speech and Language Therapy

  • Early Childhood Special Education

  • Behavioural Therapy

What are some Early-Intervention Therapies?

  • Children with GDD and those on the ASD spectrum require high intensity teaching, coaching and encouragement to learn skills that come naturally to neurotypical children. This applies to many foster children who suffered abuse and neglect early in their lives (environmental cause of GDD).

  • This means that children require 1:1 support to master essential developmental steps.

  • This work should continue until adulthood and sometimes beyond as many GDD children will never catch up with their peers but follow their own developmental timeline.

What are some creative support strategies for teens with GDD?

  • Music therapies – to improve psychological wellbeing, communication, concentration, fine motor skills and organisational skills.

  • Art therapies – to reduce anxiety, improve concentration and fine motor skills, improve emotional wellbeing.

  • Dance therapies – to improve physical, social cognitive and emotional integration, concentration, balance and coordination.

  • Sensory and aromatherapies – to reduce anxiety, improve concentration and improve psychological and emotional wellbeing.

  • Speech and Language therapies – this can also be very useful for teens.

  • Meditation, mindfulness and breathing – these exercises reduce impulsiveness, improve decision making and self-regulation.

  • Horse riding – improves core stability, muscle tone and posture.

Below are some further links that can provide you with additional information and support:

Support for parents with children who have disabilities – Gov UK

The Fostering Network

Petra’s Place

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