Things which are unique to the individual including the point of conception which can influence a child’s development can be deemed to be classed as “Personal factors”. This begins with chromosome parental influences which forms an individual’s DNA. A number of factors are influenced by both sets of parent’s genetic formations and these can influence health, appearance, hair colour and other individual traits. Of course, children born to the same parents are not identical other than in the case of identical twins where one fertilised egg split as the selection of chromosomes in the sperm and the egg is completely random.
During pregnancy and birth further factors can arise which can influence development, e.g. smoking, drinking, poor diet, infections can all have a detrimental affect the development of the foetus including learning disabilities and physical impairments.
Similarly during the actual birth lack of oxygen can affect the subsequent development of the child and may result in learning disabilities.
Learning disabilities can also result from genetic make-up, pre-birth experiences and birth experiences as well as external factors, e.g. a child may become disabled as a result of an accident. Any aspect of child’s development may be affected by disability, sensory impairments and learning disabilities – physical, emotional, social, cognitive, speech, language and communication development can all be affected.
Intervention often supports the social model of disability which ensures that all children can participate and this can limit the effect of impairments on future development.
A child’s health can also impact on their development, as a child missing school not only misses out on education but also socialising.
A child may have a predisposition to certain conditions which environment can trigger, poor living conditions can influence a child and young person’s development in many ways, e.g. damp conditions can trigger asthma – this, in turn, can influence school attendance and socialisation aspects relating to development.
There also may be external factors for which there is no genetic disposition, including poor diet, poor health care and poor living conditions. Poor diet is currently of great concern to many child practitioners who argue that it is causing health issues with obese children, e.g. diabetes, heart and blood pressure, all of which can have adverse effects on development – both health wise and social.
Many argue that a major underlying influence relating to external factors is deprivation and poverty. Poverty can affect everything with regard to daily living from what people eat, (or don’t eat), to what they wear, to if they can afford heat and where they live.
“Statistics show that by the time a child from a poor family is 2 years old, they are more likely to show a lower level of attainment than a child from a better off family. By the age of 6, a less-able child from a rich family is likely to have overtaken an able child from a poor family!” (Children & Young People’s Workforce : Level 3 : Miranda Walker).
A child’s upbringing can affect their development. Those children who receive emotional support and encouragement – these parents will also probably support schoolwork and take an interest in events – will develop better than children whose main careers have their own personal issues which affect the way they parent their children. These issues could include drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, depression or mental health issues – or simply following in their own parents footsteps, not recognising that time and laws have changed towards children. I have often heard older people say, “a good hiding didn’t do us any harm”!!! Sadly, there are children who live with families who deliberately harm them.
Children and young people also make personal choices which affect their development – some choices may have a positive