What is a developmental problem?


Children develop individually and at different speeds. A developmental abnormality can occur in different areas of the child's development and be differently pronounced.

The impairments include, for example, speech and language disorders, abnormalities in school areas such as reading, writing and arithmetic, motor abnormalities and profound developmental disorders on a mental or emotional level, for example autism.


Children can have various developmental abnormalities, which can be harmless or serious. Harmless developmental delays must be differentiated from serious developmental disorders.

Developmental abnormalities can be caused by organic, psychological or psychosocial influences. Psychological causes can come from “inside” or “outside”.

  • Internal causes for mental or emotional development disorders can arise from metabolic diseases.
  • External causes are deficits in upbringing or trauma in childhood. These causes can favor the development of relationship disorders, anxiety disorders or personality disorders in children.

Organic or physical causes can be genetic, caused by diseases of the mother during pregnancy or various damage such as malnutrition, delayed brain maturation or early childhood brain damage. As a result, developmental abnormalities in children can have various causes and therefore require a thorough diagnosis.

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Children can have developmental abnormalities in various forms. The abnormalities can only affect a sub-area such as motor skills or several areas, for example speech disorders and movement difficulties.

Put simply, there are motor, mental and emotional abnormalities in the development of a child. Depending on the cause of the developmental disorder, different forms of developmental abnormalities can occur.
Motor development abnormalities can be noticed through clumsy behavior or even through pronounced perceptual disorders with regard to body awareness and orientation.

Read more on the subject below Child development.

Motor abnormalities

Motor development problems in children are often characterized by clumsiness and impaired perception. Affected children often attract negative attention due to their clumsy behavior in sporting activities such as cycling or jumping. A clumsy walk with the wrong footing can be a clue. Some children are extremely hypermobile. Other children, on the other hand, have very rough, clumsy typeface in the children's garden or at school.

Other characteristics of motor development abnormalities are an unclear, spongy pronunciation of the children and perceptual disorders. These include impaired body and / or strength perception and difficulties with the sense of balance and orientation. Children with motor impairment often only reach the development milestones with a delay. It is possible that the children do not take their first free steps until the age of three.

You might also be interested in: Motor learning

Mental development ability

Depending on the age of the child, a mental development problem can be more or less clearly recognizable. Symptoms of a mental developmental problem are reduced mental performance, problems understanding what is being said or speaking itself, and slowed thinking.

In addition, there are behavioral disorders with the smallest changes and a limited ability to look after yourself. Depending on the severity of the mental development problem, disturbed emotional behavior or other impairments can be present at the same time.

Also interesting: Speech disorders in children

Emotional abnormalities

An emotional developmental problem often occurs together with other psychological impairments. In childhood, an emotional disorder can become noticeable due to a lack of empathy for other children or animals. Those affected can suffer from relationship disorders, i.e. unable to enter into friendships or later partnerships.

Anxiety is a common symptom of people with an emotional development disorder. For no apparent reason, those affected become conspicuous by strong fear reactions that they can hardly or not at all control.

Emotional developmental abnormalities are not always obvious and require patience and understanding.

Who makes the diagnosis of a developmental abnormality?

Children are examined by the pediatrician as part of the preventive examinations U1-U9. The pediatrician checks how developed the children are compared to their peers. The pediatrician examines the children for developmental abnormalities and delays, particularly during the U9 examination, which takes place before school.

If the pediatrician suspects developmental abnormalities, he will first discuss this with the parents. Depending on the area of ​​development, an experienced child and youth psychiatrist is usually consulted. A child and adolescent psychiatrist is able to examine children for various developmental disorders and, if necessary, to discuss and implement appropriate treatment or early intervention with the parents.

A child psychologist can also diagnose developmental abnormalities. Educators are not empowered to make a diagnosis. If parents, educators or pediatricians suspect a developmental disorder, an experienced child psychologist or child and adolescent psychologist should be visited.

For details, see Preventive examinations U1 to U9.

How do I recognize developmental abnormalities?

The characteristics of developmental abnormalities depend on the degree of severity and the disturbed development area.

Motor disorders can be recognized by comparing the affected child with their peers. If it is clearly lagging behind in terms of motor skills, one should question the child's level of development.

Mental and emotional development problems can be masked by the affected child by using maneuvers to hide their impairments. For example, a child who has difficulty speaking avoids it, or a child who is afraid of change and does not understand things or circumstances will be aggressive and tearful.

Developmental abnormalities are sometimes very difficult to identify in children. It helps to observe the children and to talk to caregivers who also see the child a lot, such as kindergarten teachers, teachers or the pediatrician.

Also read our article: Therapy and help for children and adolescents with behavioral problems.