Hesperian Health Guides

Evaluation of a Child Whose Development Is Slow

For the child who cannot do as much as other children do at the same age, a special developmental evaluation may be helpful. Additional information about the child’s mother during pregnancy, or any difficulties during or after birth may explain possible causes. Measurement of the distance around the head may show possible causes of problems or other important factors. Repeated head-size measurements (once a month at first) may tell us even more.

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For example, a child who has had meningitis (brain infection) at age 1. and whose head almost stops growing from that age on, will probably remain quite mentally slow. We should not expect a lot. However, if the child’s head continues to grow normally, the child may have better possibilities for learning and doing more (although we cannot be sure).

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A child who is born with a ‘sack on the back’ (spina bifida) may have a head that is bigger than average. If the head continues to grow rapidly, this is a danger sign. Unless the child has surgery, she may become severely mentally slow or die. If, however, the monthly measurements show that the head has stopped growing too fast, the problem may have corrected itself. She may not need surgery.

RECORD SHEET 4, covers additional questions relating to child development, and includes a chart for recording and evaluating head size.

To help the child who is developmentally delayed, you will first want to evaluate her level of physical and mental development. Chapter 34 explains ways to do this.

You can use the Child Development Chart to find a child’s developmental level, to plan her step-by-step activities, and to evaluate and record her progress. We have marked this 2-page chart, RECORD SHEET 6.

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019