Teaching Children with Global Developmental Delay

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

As a classroom teacher, you will have students with many different needs and diagnoses. It is important to be prepared with a basic understanding of some of the more common disability labels. In this lesson, you will learn some basic principles to use in teaching students with global developmental delay.

What Is Global Developmental Delay?

Mrs. Petersen just learned that she has a new student named Kelsea coming to her kindergarten class. Kelsea has an IEP and has been diagnosed with a global developmental delay. What should Mrs. Petersen expect? How can she prepare to teach Kelsea in a way that meets her learning needs?

A global developmental delay occurs when a child between the ages of birth and eighteen displays significant cognitive delays, as well as delays in other developmental domains. The developmental domains include communication, gross motor, fine motor, social/emotional, cognitive, and self-help.

Global developmental delays can have a wide variety of causes, such as autism, Down syndrome, and various genetic and chromosomal disorders. When teaching a student with global developmental delays, it is less important to identify the cause than to address the student's areas of need.

Teaching to Target the Developmental Domains

A student with a diagnosis of global developmental delays should have an individualized education plan (IEP) that addresses their areas of delay and contains goals specific to each domain in which they have a delay.

If you are a part of the IEP development team, you should be using assessments that compare the student's performance to performance typical of children of the same age. The team then works together to develop appropriate goals.

If a student enters your class with an IEP already in place, you should familiarize yourself with the student's current level of performance and the goals and objectives that are in place.

When considering teaching a student with delays, keep in mind the behavior and performance that is expected of a typically developing student of the same age. Your strategies and interventions will vary depending on the age/grade level of the students you teach. Now, let's take a look at the different areas and some strategies you can utilize in your classroom.

Consider the needs of the student in these developmental domains.
developmental domains

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