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Global developmental delay (GDD) is a name used to describe a baby or child who is very slow to learn how to do things. They may not learn to use their arms and legs properly, or they may not seem to respond much to the people around them. They may have problems learning to talk, or learning to look after themselves or feed themselves.

What is it like for siblings if their brother or sister has global developmental delay (GDD)?

Siblings often have very good relationships with their brothers and sisters who have GDD. However, siblings might feel sad that they can’t play with their brothers and sisters in the same way that other children can. They might also feel left out because their brothers and sisters need lots of help with every day things, so they get lots of attention.

What causes GDD?

Doctors will do lots of tests. Sometimes they will find that the person has a disability which we know more about such as autism, Fragile X syndrome, or a chromosome disorder. But sometimes they can’t find any cause for it.

What does it mean?

Each person with GDD is different. But they are likely to have problems with things like walking and balancing, riding a bike or playing with toys. They may also struggle with talking, drawing and writing, using a spoon or fork, or getting dressed by themselves. They may have difficulty understanding words or ideas, explaining how they feel or understanding other people’s feelings.

What treatment is there?

Children with GDD need a lot of extra help. As they get older they may need:

  • physiotherapy to help their arms and legs to work better
  • occupational therapy to help them with doing tasks and looking after themselves
  • speech and language therapy to help them with talking and understanding