Possible signs of Intellectual Disability in a young child

All children develop at differing rates however, if you have or if anyone has raised concerns about your child having a developmental delay or an Intellectual Disability (ID) the following may assist you. In typically developing children there are observable developmental milestones that we would expect to see year to year. If you are not observing the following in your child and there is more than a 6 to 12 month delay in observing these milestones, you may wish to see a medical professional to gain their opinion.


At age 1 a child can usually:

  • Sit without support
  • Babble with a wide range of sounds
  • Be aware of who are family compared to strangers
  • Enjoy simple games like peek-a-boo

At 2 years of age a child can usually:

  • Walk well
  • Scribble with a chunky crayon
  • Have a range of single words
  • Use blocks for a stacking construction
  • Recognise a few pictures of common objects
  • Respond when told ‘no’

At 3 years of age a child can usually:

  • Jump, getting both feet off the floor
  • Put on and take off some articles of clothing
  • Draw some shapes
  • Put words together to make a simple sentence
  • Join in play with another person- throwing a ball, have tea party
  • Assert ‘self’ by opposing the will of parents
  • Feel comfortable in familiar surroundings in the absence of parents or known carers

By 4 – 5 years of age a child can usually:

  • Hop, run, dance
  • Hold a pencil with mature grasp
  • Speak fluently
  • Begin to count
  • Know the names of common colours and shapes
  • Dress with minimal assistance
  • Understand the rules of a game – your turn, my turn, winners and losers
  • Play co-operatively- taking a turn, sharing

Remembering that all children develop at differing rates, if you have any concerns seek professional advice through a medical professional. If the signs are confirmed accessing an intervention programme  as soon as possible will help.

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