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‘Social delay’ is impairment in the ability to communicate and interact with others effectively. Learn more about social delay from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition

From the day we are born, we learn ways to communicate and interact with others effectively. For example, babies learn that by crying, they can get the attention of their parents, food brought to them, and a diaper change.

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Toddlers learn to laugh and smile when they are happy and to cry when they are sad. Children learn how to behave appropriately in school and ways to play with others.Human beings are social creatures by nature.

Most children learn social skills without giving much thought or effort to it. For others, especially those with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders, learning how to interact and communicate with others can be quite difficult. It is not uncommon for these children to experience social delays, which are impairments in the ability to interact and communicate with others in socially appropriate and effective ways.

Causes of Social Delays

So what causes children to experience social delays? One known cause is neglect. Neglect is defined as the failure of the parent, guardian, or some other responsible caregiver to take care of children’s basic needs. Many children who are neglected grow up without normal social interaction. As a result, they may experience social delays. Having parents who have poor parenting skills can cause social delays in children.

Children who have weak attachments to their parents have also been known to have social delays.A common cause of social delay is pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). PDDs are a group of psychological disorders that are characterized by delays in social development and communication skills. The list of PDDs are:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Rett’s syndrome
  • PDD not otherwise specified

Examples

Children may show both verbal and nonverbal signs of social delays.

For example, a 3-year-old with a social delay may be unable to speak words or sentences. Toddlers with social delays may not smile, even when they are happy or looking at their parents. Children may be unable to carry conversations with their peers or may misinterpret what others say. Other examples of behaviors in children who have social delays include:

  • Trouble taking turns and sharing when playing with others
  • Trouble understanding and following classroom rules
  • Display inappropriate play skills for the child’s age, i.e. a 6-year-old who snatches toys from other children and hits them with the toys
  • Difficulty reading and interpreting social cues, i.

    e. a 10-year-old may become physically violent and feel threatened as a result of being tapped on the shoulder by a peer, even though the peer was just trying to get the 10-year-old’s attention

  • Poor awareness of self and boundaries, i.e. may invade the personal space of others without realizing
  • Inappropriate behaviors, i.e. laughing at a funeral

Lesson Summary

We are taught social skills from an early age. Children spend a vast majority of their time playing and communicating with others around them.

For some children, socializing comes naturally. Others find it difficult to communicate and interact with others and experience social delays. Social delays may be caused by neglect, weak attachment, or poor parenting skills.

One of the more common causes of social delays are pervasive developmental disorders. These include autism and Rett’s syndrome. Examples of social delays include not smiling by age three months and having trouble understanding directions.

Learning Outcomes

First, review the lesson in its entirety, then measure your capacity to:

  • Define the term ‘social delay’
  • Indicate the causes of social delay
  • List the various pervasive developmental disorders
  • Detail examples of ways in which social delays may manifest themselves

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