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Global or isolated psychomotor delay



Global or isolated psychomotor delay



Translated by Camille Baud and Amélie Jayet



Psychomotor development refers to the evolving psychomotor acquisitions of infants and children.  These are numerous especially during the period between birth and the age of 3. Development depends on a variety of factors including genetic and environmental, healthy maturation of the nervous system, the quality of  sensory and proprioception information as well as the quality of cognitive and emotional development. Thus, knowledge of a child’s history is important to an understanding of its state of development and possible disorders.  

A psychomotor therapist has precise standards for “ordinary” development which allow him/her to evaluate a child’s level of acquisitions and possibilities.  These standards are defined by age intervals at which the majority of children acquire a specific skill.


Therefore, a psychomotrician can identify whether or not a child has a psychomotor delay and if so, define the severity.  A delay may invoke the entire psychomotor development (global delay) or a precise psychomotor domain (specific isolated or developmental disorder).  global psychomotor delay does not necessarily imply a serious disorder: sometimes the child just needs more time and will at one point show  a rapid and surprising evolution.

We also use the term “psychomotor disharmony’ when a child has a psychomotor profile which displays a large dispersal of acquisitions. In this type of profile, the child exhibits strong skills in certain domains and great difficulties in others.


Psychomotor delay may also be due to mental retardation or to a precise pathology. If we take the example of the ability to walk, there is an age interval of  between 12 to18 months during which most children acquire this ability. Thus, we do not speak about a delay in walking before the age of 18 months.

In the case of psychomotor delay, it is generally recommended to see a psychomotrician.

Depending on a child’s difficulties, re-education and therapeutic methods can involve psychomotor awakening, sensori-motor exploration or one of the other psychomotor practices (praxis, tonic regulation, space, time, …).



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