Autistic boy reading a book with his mentor

Developmental Disorders

If a child has a developmental delay, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills, as well as reduce the need for costly interventions over time.

What are developmental disorders?

Developmental disorders are impairments in a child’s physical, cognitive, language, or behavioral development. They can impact everyday functioning and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. Developmental disorders can affect physical abilities, such as vision, and mental abilities, such as learning. Many of these conditions affect multiple body parts or systems.

Developmental disorders can take a toll on an individual’s physical, intellectual and emotional growth. Providers at MaineHealth are committed to monitoring and screening patients so that they can get the early intervention they need.

Center of Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders

The Center of Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders serves individuals and their families through a continuum of care—from inpatient to outpatient settings. Our specially-trained providers have expertise in the emotional and behavioral needs of people with autism and other development disorders.

Developmental Disorder Diagnosis, Causes, Types and Treatment

Developmental disorders diagnosis

Growth and development are tracked by a child’s parents and provider.  The child’s primary care provider will evaluate the child for developmental delays or problems and address any concerns. This is called developmental monitoring or surveillance. Any problems noticed during developmental monitoring should be followed up with developmental screening.

Developmental screening is a short test to tell if a child is learning basic skills when he or she should, or if there are delays.

Developmental disorder causes

Most developmental disorders begin before a baby is born, but some can happen after birth because of injury, infection or other factors.

Many developmental disorders are believed to be caused by different factors. Some factors include:

  • Injury

  • Infection 

  • Genetics

  • Exposure to high levels of environmental toxins (such as lead)

  • Use of alcohol or other substances during pregnancy

Developmental disorders can happen to anyone.

Developmental disorder types

Some types of developmental disorders include:

Some people may have one or more developmental disabilities at once.

Developmental disorder treatment

Developmental delay is generally not curable, however it can be treated. Treatment programs may include:

  • Individual and family therapies
  • Medications
  • Applied behavioral analysis
  • Occupational and speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Special education
  • Treatment of underlying medical issues, if present

Special care, special place

Learn about the Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Call 207-661-3600