Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Developmental delay is better treated before age three

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Health experts in Taipei yesterday urged parents not to neglect signs of possible developmental delay in their young children, as specialized therapies and treatments are more effective when begun before the age of three.

Mackay Memorial Hospital occupational therapist Peng Ko-chia (彭可佳) cited the case of a nine-year-old boy surnamed Chen (陳) who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy the day after his birth, and was referred to the hospital for treatment that included physical therapy and speech therapy.

After being discharged a year later, Chen continued receiving weekly treatment and is now a second-grader, Peng said, adding that the boy gets along with his classmates, goes to school on his own and handles the activities of daily living.

Some parents are unwilling to take a child who shows signs of developmental delay to receive a medical exam because they fear stigmatizing the child, the Department of Health said, adding that some parents believe that the child might be a late bloomer.

However, intervention before the age of three is 10 times more effective than therapy after the age of three, because brain development is most significant and occurs most rapidly from birth to age three, the department said, adding that parents should not neglect this critical period.

Liu Hui-hsien (劉惠賢), a section chief at the department’s long-term care division, said 2,417 children in Taipei were diagnosed with developmental delay last year and took a total of 107,576 therapy sessions.

She said that getting early intervention therapy is like competing in sports — the children can only overcome their difficulties by repeated learning and practice.

Department statistics showed that the number of children in Taipei who were diagnosed with developmental delay increased from 2,250 in 2013 to 2,417 last year, an increase of 7 percent.

The department encourages parents who observe potential signs of developmental delay to take their children to one of 20 cooperating medical facilities in Taipei (listed on the Web site:eirrc.health.gov.tw).

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