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Delayed Development and Influencing Factors Case Study

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Updated: Apr 15th, 2021


Maria Clara was born through normal delivery. She weighed four Kilograms at birth and was forty centimeters long. Throughout her infancy, she demonstrated delayed developmental milestones. Developmental milestones refer to “changes in specific physical and mental abilities” (Clain, 2011). Various research findings on physical development have established typical chronological ages that are associated with development milestones (Bee & Boyd, 2009). However, the attainment of developmental milestones tends to differ among babies. For instance, Clara had delayed physical development in her early months of infancy. Therefore, she failed to attain her developmental milestones in time compared to her age mates. For example, she only gained half of her weight at birth. However, a normal growth rate between the first and the fourth month of an infant should be double the weight at birth (Richards, 2009). Consequently, her developmental delay in infancy eventually affected her subsequent developmental milestones.

One of the major factors that contributed to her developmental delay was family genetic factors. In several instances, genetic factors play a major “role in determining growth rate, and particularly the changes in the characteristics of early human development” (Kail, 2011). Both of Clara’s parents had delayed developmental milestones. However, other factors such as poor nutrition and disease can also lead to delayed development (Kail, 2011). Fortunately, she had good nutrition and got adequate medical attention. Therefore, health complications did not retard her development.

Despite her delayed developmental milestones, she had positive motor development. Motor development refers to “change in the abilities for physical movement from the largely reflexive movement patterns of infants to the highly skilled voluntary movements that characterize later childhood and adolescence” (Bee & Boyd, 2009). Clara’s motor development occurred at an average rate. Her reflexive movements disappeared one year after birth. Between her middle childhood and adolescence, she developed new motor skills through training (Patterson, 2007). She also acquired motor skills by observing those around her. Currently, her motor movements are fully developed. She can engage in several activities that require reflexive movement of body parts. For instance, she can play games such as table tennis and basketball.

Motor development is also influenced by genetic factors. The genetic factors that a person inherits from his or her parents usually determine the size of his or her body parts at every age (Johnson & Wood, 2010). Genetic factors determine the strength of muscles and bones of an individual (Kail, 2011). Additionally, nutrition and exercise play a critical role in motor development (Kail, 2011). For instance, Clara’s parents taught her table tennis while she was still in elementary school. Later, she learned to play basketball. Consequently, regular exercise has enabled her to develop healthy muscles and bones.

At puberty, Clara underwent several physical developments. Puberty refers to a stage in which a child’s body matures into an adult body (Richards, 2009). In girls, “puberty can begin as early as eight years up to nineteen years” (Richards, 2009). During puberty, some physical changes occur in girls. Some of the physical changes include the development of breasts, widening of hips, while others also develop acne (Richards, 2009). Due to Clara’s delayed development in early childhood, she entered puberty at fourteen years. During puberty, she had acne, which greatly affected her social life. Currently, she is a beautiful young woman.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development refers to “the construction of thought processes that include problem-solving, remembering, and the ability to make decisions from childhood to adulthood” (Johnson & Wood, 2010). Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development has been used to explain cognitive development in individuals (Johnson & Wood, 2010). Piaget developed four stages of cognitive development namely the sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years), preoperational stage (2 years to 7 years), concrete-operational stage (7years to 12 years), and formal- operational stage ( 11 years to 12 and thereafter) (Johnson & Wood, 2010).

According to Piaget, infants at the sensorimotor stage usually develop object permanence (Johnson & Wood, 2010). This means that a child can recognize the existence of objects even without seeing them (Johnson & Wood, 2010). For example, Clara developed object permanence at one year. At times, her mother would hide her favorite toy under her pillow and she would proceed to find it. In the preoperational stage, young children begin to analyze their environment using mental symbols (Bee & Boyd, 2009). Some of the symbols include words and images (Bee & Boyd, 2009). However, at this point children are not able to apply specific cognitive operations (Johnson & Wood, 2010). Clara was an active child during the preoperational stage. She was able to engage in pretend-plays and constantly explored her environment through questioning and self-discovery. During the concrete stage, children begin to develop cognitive operations and apply their new thinking to everyday life events (Patterson, 2007). They also “develop the ability to think more rationally and systematically about abstract concepts and hypothetical events” (Patterson, 2007).

Clara is currently in the formal operational stage. She is capable of abstract thinking. As a young student studying business administration, Clara has developed the ability to explain various concepts in business. She can apply her business knowledge in hypothetical situations. This has enabled her to achieve good grades in her business class because she has developed the ability to solve various hypothetical business problems. During the formal operations stage, individuals also begin to form their identity and to understand the motivations behind people’s behavior (Kail, 2011). Clara has been able to develop her identity. She believes in her capabilities and weaknesses. She also has very high self-esteem. Additionally, Clara has gained an understanding of people’s behavior. For instance, she is always rational in her interactions with her peers in college. Therefore, she can understand why her peers behave in a certain way.


An individual’s socio-emotional development can best be explained using Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Erikson’s theory “consists of eight stages of psychosocial development” (Gross, 2005). Erikson’s psychosocial theory “explains how individuals advance through eight stages of development as a function of negotiating their biological and socio-cultural forces” (Gross, 2005).

Identity versus role confusion is one of the eight stages of Erikson’s psychosocial theory (Johnson & Wood, 2010). This stage occurs between thirteen and nineteen years. “At this stage, the adolescents have more concern about their appearance. In the later years of adolescence, a person develops sexual identity” (Kail, 2011). Clara is currently in the identity versus role confusion stage of Erikson’s theory. Since she joined university, she has been concerned about her image and the views of people around her. For instance, she always asks for her mother’s views about her dressing and mannerism. Additionally, Clara has been able to gain awareness about her sexual identity. Consequently, she is more cautious about her relations and interactions with the opposite sex. However, she has a good number of both male and female friends. Clara has also developed a close relationship with her father as opposed to her mother. She believes that her father shares the same interests as her.

According to Erikson, individuals in the identity versus confusion stage experience role confusion (Clain, 2011). Adolescents at this stage are often concerned about their future roles in society (Clain, 2011). For instance, they always experience mixed feelings about their future. As a result, their emotional status is often affected. For instance, Clara has had concerns about the nature of her future career. At times, she gets depressed about whether she will be employed in a good company.

At this stage, adolescents also develop their value system because of the realization that they are fully responsible for their actions and choices (Gross, 2005). Additionally, they begin to form boundaries in their social relations. For instance, when Clara joined university she realized that she would be fully responsible for her decisions and choices. Therefore, her values such as honesty, integrity, and diligence always guide her decisions and choices. For example, Clara always ensures that she completes her schoolwork in time. To some extent, Clara’s parents who are hardworking and self-disciplined have influenced her value system. Her parents are also staunch Christians who have inculcated godly values in her.


Bee, H., & Boyd, D. (2009). The Developing Child. New York: Pearson Education Press.

Clain, W. (2011). Theories of Development. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Gross, J. (2005). Introducing Erik Erikson. Boston: Brooks Publishers.

Johnson, J., & Wood, S. (2010). Mastering the World of Psychology. New York: Plenum Press.

Kail, R. (2011). Children and Their Development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Patterson, C. (2007). Infant Development. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Richards, J. (2009). Developmental Milestones. New York: Eagle Publishers.

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