Throughout a child’s life, there are many opportunities to watch for potential developmental delays, access appropriate intervention, and hopefully prevent further delays and other issues that may arise as a result. For babies and toddlers, early learning experiences occur within the context of their physical and mental health, building brain architecture that lays the foundation for success later in life. Children develop along a continuum, with milestones reached at ages that vary within an accepted timeframe.
Development that does not happen within the expected timeframe can raise concerns about developmental disorders, health conditions, or other factors contributing negatively to the child’s development. Early, regular, and reliable screening can help identify problems or potential problems that may threaten a child’s developmental foundation and lead to additional delays and deficits later in childhood.
For screening to be most effective, however, it must begin early, it must follow a regular ongoing schedule through early childhood, and it must use reliable, valid screening tools appropriate to the age, culture and language of the child. Screening is recommended to be early and frequent because that is the most effective way to connect babies to treatment or intervention, and the negative long-term effects of developmental delays on the child and family can be reduced.
Early, regular, and reliable screening can help identify problems or potential problems that may threaten the child’s developmental foundation and lead to additional delays and deficits later in childhood. The success and long-term cognitive benefits of early intervention appear to be related to the level of intervention, comprehensiveness, and duration of the services, so identifying problems and connecting babies to treatment during their earliest years is most effective. Parents of children who participated in early intervention after being identified through screening also report that their families are better off as a result of early screening and intervention services.
Family Network on Disabilities through our Pediatric Enrichment Program or PEP provides a comprehensive developmental screening protocol to local pediatricians in our community. Pediatricians along with their staff will learn how to implement, use, score, and implement two proven developmental screening tools that are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for use with very young children. The ASQIII (Ages and Stages Questionnaire III) and the MCHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers). They will also receive assistance in the design and implementation of a customized system for referral and resource dissemination specific to the needs of their individual practice by a developmental specialist.