Children Who Come From Different Cultures Might Be Taken For

Danielle Magid

Children who come from different cultures might be taken for children with developmental delays1

Developmental delays

A developmental delay is a lag in development, but the term is used lightly. Service providers would prefer to classify developmental delays as a specific disability. The author of this article, Rebeca Valdivia, wants us to keep in mind that, “because it is based on a comparison of the child’s functional level with that of other children of the same age, “developmental delay” can be seen as a statistically defined, socially mediated construct that depends on cultural expectations and the definition of what constitutes a delay” (p. 2).

Cultuure and diagnosing developmental delays

Valdivia believes that some service providers are too quick to diagnose children with developmental delays, because he or she does not take into consideration the culture the child comes from. For example, Valdivia talks about the different developmental checklists cultures have. Some cultures might not find it necessary to have their children independently spoon-feed before the age of five or six, while other cultures find it necessary. In addition, in regards to fine-motor skills, some families want their child to hold and drink out of a cup before the age of three, four or five, but some cultures see no need for this development. However, when these separate children form different cultures come to take a test on their development, are their identifications going to be fair? No, the results most likely wont be adequate, because the service provider has not taken into consideration the child’s cultural background.

What needs to be done
Valdivia’s point in this article is that service providers and teachers, need to be educated on their students’ cultural backgrounds in order to make educated identifications on whether or not a child has a developmental delay. Therefore Valdivia suggests that service providers, “should be aimed at bridging the gap between what the child is currently able to do in order to be optimally successful in the current upcoming environments” (p. 5).