Advocates tout the importance of detecting signs of developmental delays in children before the age of five, saying the earlier the intervention the better the outcome. “We really think about one out of every five kids can benefit from early detection and early intervention.”
Katy Neas is Easter Seals senior vice president of government relations. “Each year about a million kids under the age of five are falling through the cracks, showing up at schools with delays or disabilities that have been unidentified and unaddressed.”
Parents can visit EasterSeals.com to take the “ages and stages” questionnaire, which is a common screening tool used in Wisconsin. The data will be analyzed and then a report will be sent to parents with information about basic child development, so parents can better understand certain milestones and levels of development. The information can help parents start the conversation with the pediatrician.
Neas says early detection and early intervention is best, but it’s never too late to get help. She wonders whether some learning disabilities in second and third graders might have been reduced if language issues had been identified at an earlier age. She says it could have change the entire learning experience.
Neas says the developmental screening does not result in either a diagnosis or treatment plan; instead, it identifies areas in which a child’s development differs from same-age norms.
One of the limitations is funding. Neas encourages people to sign the petition on the website, asking members of congress and state lawmakers to dedicate more resources so that more children can benefit from early intervention.
Also, anyone with concerns about a young child’s development may make a referral to the Wisconsin Birth to 3 Program.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:51