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Development in children and young people

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Each child is different and unique, therefore, he will develop on his own rate. However, it should be looked at the average rate of development, which is marked by milestones. When a child doesn’t reach the milestone at expected rate, a child is delayed in development. There are a lot of personal and external factors which may influence a delay. Some factors causing delay can be eliminated very easily, for example, lack of sleep, but others are not. Very often difficulty in one area of development for example, speech, can influence development in other areas, for example, socializing.

“Delay and/or difficulty in beginning to use language is one of the most common causes of parental concern for young children brought to pediatricians and other professionals. Delay may indicate specific difficulty with language, or it may be an early indicator of a broader problem such as developmental delay or autism”. It is very important to recognize the cause of delay, but early identification and intervention is vital, as support is more effective as the delay begins to show.

It is absolutely essential to provide children with necessary support and help to reach their full potential. Early identification and intervention will benefit children on long term basis, as it not only will allow children to develop skills that are expected at their age, but will prevent children from developing negative behavior also. Early years practitioners play fundamental role in identifying signs of delay in a child’s development. They spend so much time with the child, they get to know the child well and they know child’s abilities, so when the delay become clear it most likely will be identified by them.

Early years practitioners after identifying signs of delay in a child’s development are able to make swift assessments and involve outside agencies to make their observations of a child. The earlier a delay is identified the less problems it will cause in child’s further development, especially in behavioral and emotion development, for example, if delay in communication and language is identified in a nursery is better and more effective than it would have been identified later at school.

Therefore, it is very important for early years practitioners to know the rates and sequence of development, to understand children’s’ learning and be able to recognize and identify any early signs of delay. “Child development refers to the process that children go through in skill development during predictable time periods called developmental milestones. Developmental delay occurs when children do not reach certain milestones by the expected time period” .

Late recognition of development can cause a lot of problems for children and young people later on in life. Late recognition of development may affect children’s confidence and self-esteem. Not realizing the child’s delay in development may cause potential risks as the children not fulfilling their potential, experience problems with understanding information, struggling to be independent, lack of motivation, difficulty in making friends, depression, possible regression of behaviour, anxiety, anti-social behaviour and much more.

If there is a delay in recognition, for as such as language development, the child might be unable to express his feelings and needs, this can cause the child being angry and frustrated. Children can be very selfish and impatient with those who they do not understand or those who do not understand what they say. The child with communication problems can find himself excluded straight away. The responsibility lies on early education practitioners firstly and later on teachers to encourage the child and other children not to exclude the child and play together despite communication difficulties.

Late speech development may affect other aspects of development such as social, emotional, behavioural and intellectual. If some signs are missed, the child may not be able to reach his full potential and be independent. Low self-esteem will influence the child’s social behaviour and he may become withdrawn and isolated for fear of being laughed at or bullied. Finally it can cause learning delays particularly, spelling, reading and literacy.

“Multi agency working is when two or more agencies combine their skills and expertise, with the joint goal of meeting an individual, or group of individual’s needs. It requires good, strategically planned, methods of working alongside each other, where good communication, common goals, understanding and powerful leadership and teamwork is essential” . There are number of professional which support all aspects of children’s development.

Multi-agency working together makes a huge difference to the lives of children and young people and ensures effective way of supporting children, young people and families with additional needs. Social worker, SEN Officer, childminder, teacher or parent may work together to help the child and improve the quality of life. All professionals can come together to work out a plan to support the child and his individual needs. The action plan consists of gathering information, taking an assessment on, examining the results and making future plans.

All gathered information must be shared continuously throughout the whole process, and certainly, the information must be thorough and accurate. By working together agencies become much stronger and avoid more mistakes, issues can be dealt much faster and necessary support received easier. For example, every school has special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for special education needs at school and work together with other teachers and parents to provide the best support at school. This way it is easier to monitor and observe the child’s development.

When a health visitor identifies a problem, for example, language and communication, the child would be referred to Speech Therapist or if the child is school age, SENCO would be aware. SENCO would put intervention plan into place, outside agencies would be informed and individual learning plan (ILP) drawn up. Teaching Assistant would be part of ILP. When working together is involved and everything is being checked by different people from different organisations there are less chances of errors which can limit the risk of accidental harm and every stage of development is covered.

According to the Department of Education’s Early Intervention Paper (2010), “Early intervention means intervening as soon as possible to tackle problems that have already emerged for children and young people”. There are different professionals who come into school to discuss ways the child with additional needs can be supported. They include: Speech Therapist: The speech therapist works in partnership with parents, teachers and other professionals involved, to help children develop their communication skills to the best of their ability, and reach potential booth educationally and socially.

For some children, particularly those with speech sound difficulties, this may involve weekly sessions for a period of them. For other children, input may be at the level of working with parents and professionals to set appropriate goals and monitor progress. Social worker: They come in when parents ask for help or if there is a concern about a child in the home environment. Sometimes schools contact social services directly if they are worried about a child’d home environment. They also work with the school regarding ‘Looked After Children’.

Physiotherapist: They work with the parents and classroom assistants. They give advice and set targets on how pupils can develop their gross motor skills. Following the agreed period of support, the child’s progress will be reviewed in partnership with parents/carers and others and further recommendations and actions will be adopted according to the child’d changing needs. Psychologist: An Educational Psychologist may come in if the child does not make any progress following interventions by and speech therapist.

They will carry out assessment on the child which uses different tools, techniques and approaches that draw on relevant psychological theory and research. The purpose of the assessment would be to understand what is happening to the child, who is concerned, why there is a problem and what can be done to make a difference to the situation. Early identification of speech, language and communication delay is extremely important as children may be supported to improve their skills and they may then be able to organise their thought and express themselves.

Language development is so important, if a child has a problem communicating they may become frustrated and this may affect other aspects of their development including social, emotional, behavioural, moral, cognitive and intellectual. If delayed language acquisition is diagnosed early enough, professionals can target the child’s needs and support him/her in the best possible way so that they don’t out on milestones in their development. Outside agencies can be informed and the child will receive the specialist support they require.

Risks could include: the child not fulfilling their potential; experiencing problems with learning and understanding information; struggling to be independent; child being isolated and withdrawn; difficulty in or loss of interest in making and keeping friendships; lack of motivation; depression; low self-esteem and confidence; inability to express feeling appropriately; possible regression of behaviour; separation anxiety and anti-social behaviour. Children who have speech, language and communication problems often have different professionals who work with them to support them.

They sometimes come together as a team to discuss the need of the child and how these needs can be met as the guiding principle is that all services should work together closely in the best interest of the child. They would include : Speech and Language therapist Refer to section 3. 4 The SENCo The school’s senco manages SEN provision in schools. They work with different professionals who support the child, to ensure that the child’s appointments and paperwork are up to date. Autism Advisory teacher They come into school to advise on how best to support children who have been diagnosed with autism.

Puppets: When children interact with puppets and make them talk and interact with one another, they are also involved in dramatic play. This type of play is excellent for developing language and for expressing feelings. Games: When children play games they learn to take turns and communicate with each other. They express how they feel about what the other child has to do or did and sometimes they try to support the other child if they think they do not understand the game and it’s a great way for them to develop their communication. Their vocabulary will improve.

Pictures: Pictures are used alongside words to make communication more easier and understandable. In fact in my placement school, the reading scheme that is used starts the children off with ‘picture only’ books so the children are encouraged to talk about the pictures in the book and make their own story up and ask questions. Technology: Computer programmes (apps and games), interactive whiteboard, story tapes, cds are all ways of stimulating a child’s communication development. These days a lot of programmes are interactive and children can hear and respond to different applications made specially to help develop their language.


This usually comes from the children’s personal experiences in life.

Bereavement: a loss of carer, family member, friend, pet or even toys(for much younger children) can affect children’s development. They may display frustration, aggression, anger, regression, withdrawal and other behavioural problems.

Divorce: Sometimes children may think it’s their fault that mum and dad are not together anymore. They may begin to hate themselves. Physically they may experience a loss in appetite and insomnia. They may not be able to concentrate in school and it may become challenging for them as they may be suddenly expected to become more independent.


This type of transition is a result of movement to a different location
Migrating: This is very stress for children as they have to lose all their relationships(family and friends), start a new school, and possibly learn a new language, accent and culture. They may feel different to others (physical racial differences like skin colour; eye colour; hair colour) and too young to handle their feelings. They may become frustrated, hate their parents, be unable to settle in school and show behavioural problems in school.


This type of transition can be seen when children move to different learning framework.
From Foundation Phase to National Curriculum: In the Early Years Foundation Phase, children most have their learning experience through play. When they make that transition into National Curriculum, it has a huge effect on them as they begin to have formal ways of learning and less creative and expressive activities.They may show signs of anxiety, not wanting to go to school, not understanding why they have to be in school hence not engaging in the learning activities.


This is as a result of changes to our body due to physical growth and development or long term medical conditions.
Puberty: Young people begin to experience puberty from early teenage. During that period a lot of hormonal changes take place in their body which results in physical body changes. They experience mood swings which can sometimes lead to behavioural problems or withdrawal. They may not like the way that they look or they may feel that they have reached maturity so they can decide what they want for themselves. Sometimes these decisions (taking harmful substances, getting pregnant and truancy) affect their development negatively and they are not able to achieve their full potential.

It makes it much easier for children to cope with transition when they have somebody who is supporting them positively so that they can continue to feel secured about other aspects of their life.
They know that someone is there that they can talk to about how they feel and talking about it may help them to cope better and settle down much quicker.

Nobody likes to go through a situation feeling that they are on their own and no one is supporting them. A positive relationship will reassure children that they are being cared for and supported.
They learn how to deal with stressful situations and become resilient. Their likelihood of low self-esteem/worth/confidence which often leads to depression in later life may be reduced.

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