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Developmental Print this page


What is developmental delay?

Developmental delay occurs if a child develops at a slower pace when compared to other children of the same age.

Children and adults may be mildly, moderately or severely affected.

How does a developmental delay affect people?

Living with a developmental delay can cause challenges in certain areas of life, especially in language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living. 

Indicators of delay might be how a person:

  • Communicates
  • Moves
  • Learns
  • Understands
  • Interacts.

What are some common developmental disabilities?

Some of the most common developmental disabilities include:

  • Cerebral palsy - is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood.
  • Fragile X syndrome - Fragile X syndrome has a higher level of incidence in males. The condition can result in behavioural and emotional features such as anxiety, shyness, attention deficit, autistic type behaviours, repetitive speech and developmental features such as intellectual disability, learning difficulties, development delay, difficulties with speech and communication, fine and gross motor skills.
  • Down syndrome - Down syndrome is a chromosomal anomaly. Normally a person is born with 46 chromosomes, however, if they are re born with Down syndrome, they have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes. This extra copy changes the body’s and brain’s normal development. Down syndrome occurs in roughly equal numbers of males and females across different ethnic groups and women of all ages. All children living with Down syndrome have some form/degree of intellectual impairment, usually in the mild to moderate range. (Source: Down Syndrome Association of Queensland.)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder - Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of conditions that cause people to have difficulties with social communication, to have narrow interests and repetitive behaviours or be over sensitive or under sensitive to taste, touch, sight or sounds.  (Source:  ASD is a brain based condition that is where the brain has not developed in a typical way. No person with ASD is the same. Children and adults with ASD have a wide range of abilities and difficulties.
  • Brain injury - Acquired brain injury - or "ABI" - refers to any damage to the brain that occurs after birth, with the exception of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) or ABI aquired as an adult.
  • Spina Bifida - Spina Bifida occurs when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) do not form properly around part of the baby’s spinal cord. People with Spina Bifida have varying degrees of permanent disability including paralysis or weakness in the legs, bowel and bladder incontinence, hydrocephalus and specific learning difficulties. However, many are able to lead full, active and independent lives. (Source: Spina Bifida Foundation of Victoria.)
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorders - are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioural challenges. People with Pervasive developmental disorders can have characteristics similar but less severe to those of autistic disorder and Asperger’s disorder.
  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)- are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. FASDs are 100% preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Behaviour disorders - The most common disruptive behaviour disorders include Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder (CD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These three behavioural disorders share some common symptoms so diagnosis can be difficult and time consuming.

This list does not include all developmental disabilities.

Please note some disabilities will have separate pages on the Oi platform.