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Who We Are | Concerns About a Child | Screening | Diagnosis & Treatment
Screenings provide a quick and simple way to monitor a child’s healthy development.
                   Making Observations                  

Developmental screenings should be a part of every well-baby visit. Screenings provide a quick and simple way to monitor a child’s healthy development. The earlier a developmental delay or disorder is detected, the better the prognosis for the child.

Today, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 2.59% of children under age three are being served through the federally-funded Early Intervention program.1 Yet, 17% of children under the age of 18 are affected by a developmental, behavioral, or learning disability.2 Since birth to three is a critical time in a child’s development, a delay in diagnosis may compromise a child’s chances for success.

During the first three years, children make regular visits to the physician. At each well visit, physical development is monitored: a child is weighed and measured, growth is charted. Well visits also provide crucial opportunities to screen for developmental disorders, to monitor and chart a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.

Screening can be simple; it takes just a few minutes. It is effective, because it utilizes major developmental milestones. Screening is important because of the potential each child holds—potential for success, for challenges, but above all, for change and development. To recognize a child’s risk for developmental disorders, then, is to also recognize and maximize a child’s potential.

There are a variety of ways that physicians can seamlessly weave a developmental screening into a well visit. A parent might fill out a screening form in the physician’s waiting room, at home before a well visit, or with the assistance of a nurse, physician, or other professional in the examination room.

With proper intervention, a child can overcome a wide range of developmental problems. Intensive, well-designed, and timely intervention can improve the prospects—and the quality of life—for many children who are considered at risk for cognitive, social, or emotional impairment. Even children with conditions such as autism, once thought to be virtually untreatable, can make measurable progress with effective intervention. Well-implemented programs can brighten a child’s future and make a positive impact on the entire family. Early and appropriate intervention can be the key to greater independence, increased participation in the wider community, and ultimately, a more productive and fulfilling life as an adult. But without identification through screening, a child may not receive the early and intensive interventions he or she needs. Identification is essential for intervention.

Parents and pediatricians work in partnership to assure that each child grows and develops to his or her full potential. All children will have a greater chance for success if the first signs  of a developmental disorder are closely monitored.

“I’m going to make sure that at every age at which I see a child I’m going to look at what enables that child to have success. Our threshold is what brings success to a child. Interacting brings success. Language brings success. And being able to pay attention to somebody as they’re speaking brings success, because that enables them to go on to other stages of development.” (Robert H. Wharton, M.D., Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician)

“To make good use of parents’ observations, which are rich and deep, makes a lot of sense. Parents can contribute information in the waiting room while there’s down time for them and the pediatrician is busy with other patients. Then you can bring the two together with a much richer source of information than you could with just the pediatrician doing some observations.” (Frances Page Glascoe, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics)

For more information about screening, click here.

For more information about the use and selection of quality screening tools, click here.

For recommended screening tools, click here.

1. Boyle CA, Decoufle P, and Yeargin-Allsopp M., (1994). Prevalence and health impact of developmental disabilities in US children. Pediatrics. 9, 399-403. Developmental Disabilities Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

2. TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

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