Why Make the First Five Count?:
Every year, our nation fails to identify more than one million children under the age of five with a disability or at risk of a developmental delay. And according to a new Easter Seals 50-state report, we aren’t doing enough to keep children from falling through the cracks.
Kids who start school behind their peers may never catch up. We can give every child an equal opportunity to learn and grow, but we need to get kids the help they need in the critical years before they turn five.
We all want our children to be healthy and happy! To think that your child may have a developmental issue would be devastating. But to ignore the problem would be even worse! You would put your child at risk for being further behind by not getting them the help they need when you notice a potential problem.
Donna Davidson was so kind to answer a few question that I had about developmental issues and Easter Seals organization.
What are some tale tale signs that your child may have a disability or special needs that parents tend to over look?
Donna: If you have a little one, by age one, a baby should at least be saying mama or dada. By one and a ½ they should be saying a few words. By three, they should be able to speak in short sentences and they should be able to be understood by children outside of the house.
There are problems in communication. Child is not communicating like they should be. Again, you can take the Ages & Stages Questionnaire to screen your child's developmental progress.
At what age should you have your child tested?
Donna: There is not a perfect age. The earlier the better. There is absolutely no harm in getting a child tested. Best news can be that everything is fine. But if you wait and say they are going to grow out of it and time goes by.
What are some of the challenges that can be avoided with early detection of disabilities?
Donna: The first 5 years of life are the most important in terms of brain development. There is no other time that a child’s brain develops more quickly.
By identifying the need early the child can get all of the help and support that they need so they can be successful in school along with their peers. If a child starts school behind they are likely to remain behind the rest of their life.
If you suspect your child may have a disability, what is the first thing the parents should do? Who do you call first?
Donna: Talk to your family practitioner or pediatrician. Express to them what your concerns are. If you are not satisfied with them, every state has an early intervention program. Or you can call Easter Seals. Easter Seals is in every state around the country.
What are the top three or five questions the parents ask the doctor? Or provider?
Donna: This is what I am seeing. I would like you to do a developmental assessment. Tell them you concern the best you can.
Is there any support for the parents?
Donna: You are getting into a whole system. A service coordinator will help you navigate through the system. They help you all the through the program until your child is 3 years old.
There are lots of parent support groups. There are groups associated with specific disabilities.
What are some questions we should be asking insurance companies about coverage for special needs and disabilities?
Donna: Private insurance is always a challenge. Some private insurance companies do not cover therapy services for children. When you are thinking of becoming a parent that is something you should ask your insurance company. If you have private insurance that will not cover you can come to Easter Seal. We are great in finding resources. Also there are state intervention program. For those with no insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid there is a program based on the income of the family.
I want to thank Donna for taking time out of her busy schedule to allow me to ask question so I can spread the word about Make The First Five Count! Don't forget, Easter Seals has a free online screening tool to track your child's developmental milestones. While you are there make sure you sign the petition to increase government funding for children with disabilities and developmental delays.
Please spread the word about Make the First Five Count!