Delays in reaching common milestones are common in childhood, occurring in 10%-15% of young children in Singapore. Most children grow out of these short-term developmental delays, with or without the help of specialized therapies. What is less common but no less severe is Global Development Delay (GDD) which occurs in 1%-3% of preschool children. GDD in children is characterized by significant lower intellectual functioning compared to their peers, as well as a significant delay in two or more domains such as gross motor, fine motor, communication, or social skills.


Causes of Global Development Delay


There is a genetic component to Global Development Delay, which has been linked to a range of prenatal or perinatal causes including exposure to tobacco or alcohol in-utero, premature birth, or birth trauma. GDD can also develop during the infant stage due to environmental causes including malnutrition, stressful home environments, trauma, or infections (particularly meningitis or encephalitis, which cause bleeding in and around the brain).


Signs of Global Development Delay


Signs of Global Development Delay can overlap with signs of other disabilities such as Autism, Dyslexia, or ADHD. Common signs of GDD include delays in key developmental milestones including:


  • Fine and gross motor skill delay

  • Speech and language delay

  • Poor social and socialisation skills

  • Limited communication or speech skills


If you have observed symptoms of GDD in your child over a period of time, it is recommended to track these symptoms in a notebook or document. A clinical assessment might be required for diagnosis with GDD, and a list of observable symptoms is useful in communicating your concerns to your paediatrician. Paediatricians in Singapore can provide referrals to child development assessment services as a follow-up.


Treatments for Global Development Delay


A first step in seeking treatment for Global Development Delay is to undergo an official assessment  to assess your child’s symptoms and obtain a diagnosis. This diagnosis may evolve over time as your child grows and matures, however early intervention is key to getting proactive access to therapy and other education support services that can help support your child’s developmental needs.


Treatments for GDD are highly individualised. Depending on the severity of your child’s symptoms, our trained specialists might recommend specific therapy services including:



A therapy regime consisting of multiple types of therapy may be suitable to address your child’s range of needs. To find out more about our therapy services, read our FAQs or contact our Allied Care Centres in Singapore to book a complimentary Parents’ Discussion.