Developmental delay is when a child’s development is not at the level expected for their age and has a significant effect on their ability to perform daily routines and activities. A child under 6 years of age with developmental delay may meet the NDIS early intervention requirements NDIS Act 2013 s.9 .

Developmental delay may include:

How a child looks after themself:

  • showering, bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, grooming, sleeping

How a child understands and uses language:

  • being understood by other people by using gestures, pictures, words and sentences to communicate
  • understanding what other people say and communicate

How a child thinks, learns and problem solves: 

  • understanding and remembering information
  • learning new things and using new skills
  • planning, making decisions and completing tasks
  • developing pretend play skills and play interests
  • emotional development and social awareness

How a child uses their body to move:

  • moving around the home (sitting, crawling, walking)
  • moving to perform everyday routines 
  • manipulating objects and using hands
  • moving about in the community

Evidence for developmental delay can come from those who know a child well including family/carers, health professionals, allied health professionals and educators.

When is a NDIS plan needed?

We know children with developmental delay benefit from early intervention and this doesn’t always mean your child will require support from an NDIS plan. There are other ways to give early intervention support to children. Learn more about Early Childhood Early Intervention. 

If it is identified that a child with developmental delay needs an NDIS plan, it works best when a team ‘around the child’ works in partnership with the child’s family/carers. The team includes early childhood intervention professionals, the family and other carers. The team will support the child’s development and give support to increase the child’s independence and social participation.

Does a child need a diagnosis to receive supports?

No, a diagnosis is not needed for children under 6 years of age. 

For example, the NDIS may also support:

  • A child under 6 years of age with developmental delay
  • A child under 6 years of age waiting for a diagnostic assessment to be completed with health services
  • A child under 6 years of age showing early signs of a disability (for example Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual Disability)
  • A child under 6 months of age who is at significant risk of development delay (for example babies born prematurely)

Is developmental delay the same as Global Developmental Delay?

Developmental delay is different to Global Developmental Delay (GDD). GDD is a disability that is diagnosed by health professionals, whereas developmental delay is not a disability. For information about GDD please refer to the NDIS Operational Guidelines.

Who to contact?

Family/carers can contact their local Early Childhood Partner for more information. 

In areas where an Early Childhood Partner is not available, family/carers can contact their local NDIS Office or call 1800 800 110.

This page current as of
6 September 2019
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