Is Your Toddler on Track?
Free Developmental Screening Tool Gives Parents Information and Affirmation
Parents often wonder if their children are developing normally. Two-year-old Sam might be stringing words into phrases, while 2-year-old Melissa is pointing and using one-syllable, single words to communicate. Is Sam ahead or is Melissa behind? Or, are both children developmentally on target for verbal communication at age 2?
Parents and caregivers in Tulsa County can now go to a website, supported by the Community Service Council, which will allow them to screen their children between the ages of 0 and 5 for developmental problems. There is no cost for the screening.
Developers of the Sprouts Child Development Initiative, www.sproutsdevelopment.com, hope to give area parents and caregivers of young children the tools they need to ensure that their little sprouts are thriving.
What began in 1991 as the LINK Project, a developmental screening program limited to children in childcare centers, has grown to a program that can reach many more children through the use of technology.
While the LINK Project was limited to screening children enrolled in childcare centers, the Sprouts Child Development Initiative can reach anyone who has access to a computer. Childcare centers also have long waiting lists, so many children who might need early intervention for developmental delays are not being screened. Sprouts gives parents the opportunity to screen their children whether they are enrolled in childcare or not.
The screening, called ASQ-3, which stands for Ages and Stages Questionnaire, focuses on five areas of development: communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving and personal-social skills.
Leslie Baker Gudgel, director, Sprouts Child Development Initiative at Tulsa’s Community Service Council, said that after parents take the screening online, they can then get further support should their child have a developmental issue. That help might be simply using some of the information on the website to address the child’s delay, or it may be calling a professional at the Sprouts Child Development Initiative to get help finding resources.
“We have professionals who can do the next level of evaluation, if necessary,” Gudgel said. “And we work with the child’s physician, the family and the teacher [to address the child’s developmental delay].”
Sprouts’ network includes speech pathologists, psychologists and other child development professionals.
“The whole premise is that early childhood screening is recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics),” Gudgel said, “but less than half of the doctors do it because of time and reimbursement.”
Gudgel added that besides screening, the website is a valuable resource of high-quality information for all parents of young children, ages 0-5. “We want to educate parents about child development,” she said. “It [the site] gives parents good information that we’ve vetted.”
For example, if a parent wants to know if her 15- to 18-month-old son is doing what most other children in that age range are doing, she can go to the website, click on “Development,” and then “Personal-Social Skills” and get a list of typical skills for that age-group. The parent can also get a list of activities to do with her child to support and encourage those skills.
Because each “milestone” skill, or skill that a child learns during a particular time in life, is an important building block to the next set of skills, parents are encouraged to continue to do the developmental screening at each phase of early childhood.
The free developmental ASQ-3 screening is for children age 5 and under at sproutsdevelopment.com. For more information about Sprouts or about screening your child, call 918.699.4250.