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Tip Sheet 1: Supporting the inclusion of children with global developmental delay

Key Message

  • Children of all abilities benefit from playing and learning together
  • Inclusion is important for development and a right
  • There are informal and formal opportunities for children to be included

Development and developmental delays

Children learn and develop at different rates. Some learn to walk or talk more quickly, others more slowly. Significant delay in one or two areas of child development is called developmental delay. When there are multiple areas of delay, the term global developmental delay may be used. These terms can be used broadly or as a formal diagnosis.

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Children with developmental or global developmental delays benefit from specialist supports. However, many of the best supports for a child with a developmental delay, are the same as for all children. All children develop through playing and learning with other children. All children benefit from interacting with and learning from a range of adults. Positive relationships with other children and adults support learning and development.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion means that all children have the same opportunity to:

  • Be appreciated for who they are
  • Be part of a group or activity
  • Use the same facilities
  • Benefit from the same services

Inclusion means that no child should be isolated from others because of a perceived difference. All children and families have a right to use the same services as other children and families.

Every child and every family is different. Your feelings as you take the journey from noticing your child may have a delay, to diagnosis, and beyond may also be different from that of other parents. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

What is participation?

Participation goes beyond simply being able to go to the service, or building. Participation means being actively involved and included. Enjoyment can lead to greater participation. Participation means:

  • Being helped to understand the activity
  • Being welcome
  • Having choices about how you are involved

Activities range from informal community activities to more formal children’s services. Adjustments may be needed to make sure all children are included and participating.

It is important for children to be involved in a wide range of activities. Children learn and develop through being with other children and adults. Doing activities with other people helps children learn about the world around them.

Playing and learning with other children teaches children important skills that help future learning. More opportunities to participate supports more child development.

This set of tip sheets includes:

Belonging – the importance of making sure children feel like they belong

Taking part in family life – having fun, communicating, and being part of everyday family tasks

Playing and learning with other children of all abilities, is very helpful for children’s development

Taking part in community activities – helps children understand their world and have confidence with people

Playgroups – provide opportunities for children and families to get together locally. Playgroups are good for children. Playgroups also benefit parents and carers through making connections.

Child Care – supports parents to do other things and provides developmental opportunities for children

Preschool – more formal education programs developed primarily for four-year-old children

School – How to choose a school and know your rights

For more information, please go to the relevant tip sheet.

If you feel distressed thinking and reading about this topic,
talk to your GP or health professional. You can also call Lifeline on 131 114.