Children's physical disability

By: Kennedy Kao

It can be worrisome to see that your child is not developing physical motor skills, especially if you see other children reaching their developmental milestones at a more rapid pace. Childcare professionals are adept in perceiving disruptions in a child’s physical development, but it is helpful if the parent can bring up these observations to their childcare provider. Paying close attention to a child’s daily movements and developmental milestones is important when recognizing children’s physical disability. 

Physical development is a waiting game, as certain children can develop new skills and functions at different times. For instance, some children can walk at ten months, whereas other children’s first steps aren’t until 18 months. This delay is not something to worry too much about. But there are signs you’ll want to look out for that can reveal a child may be experiencing stunted physical development.

Signs That May Suggest a Physical Disability

Children can show signs of a developmental delay when certain milestones are missed. These milestones can range from physical movement and motor functions to emotional and cognitive behaviours. For instance, a child who still is not walking at 2 years of age might be a cause for concern. Even issues such as being unable to make simple hand gestures like pointing or waving “bye-bye” could be a result of a physical disability. 

If you suspect that your child may have a physical or motor delay, it is important to observe them carefully. Make note of what the child can do well and where they might be having difficulty. If your child appears to be delayed in developing certain physical skills, they should be taken to their practitioner to be screened. 

The following signs could indicate that your child is experiencing developmental delay and possibly an early onset of physical disability. Parents should pay attention if their child: 

  • Cannot sit up or bend their knees, which relates to an unusually tight muscle tone.
  • Cannot hold their head up after three months, demonstrating an abnormally loose muscle tone. 
  • Cannot, or won’t, reach or release toys, showing poorly developed hand and/or finger coordination. 
  • Refuses to reach across their body while they play
  • Can only complete tasks with one hand
  • Doesn’t put out their hands to catch themselves if falling
  • Has poor balance, frequently stumbles and trips over themselves.  

While monitoring your child’s developmental milestones, it’s important to take note of when these signs pop up. While it isn’t necessary to overreact to small physical movements that are questionable, you should observe them carefully over a period of time to see if there are any recurring patterns. Additionally, it is essential that you voice your concerns to your child’s practitioner, not only for your child’s health but also for your personal peace of mind. 

If you are concerned about your child’s development, connect with your childcare provider to identify if your child is prone to or currently experiencing a physical disability. In the event that your child receives a diagnosis, there are programs, services and facilities that help children grow with their physical disability. Inquire about ways to foster a healthy and inclusive environment for a disabled child as well as ways to cope with the effects it may have on your mental health.