Pediatricians follow a schedule of recommended visits for children from 0-18 years of age. At each visit, the doctor pays attention to the child’s development, growth and general health. But when it comes to developmental milestones and sensory integration a lot can be missed in such a short visit. In a perfect world, every child would be evaluated not only by the pediatrician but also by a team of pediatric therapists specialized in child development and sensory integration.
Imagine a child who does not crawl by the age of one. His parents may describe him as a calm child who likes to visually study the world around him rather than physically explore it. What about the toddler who bumps into things, or stumbles often? His parents joke that their little tyke is so clumsy, but his lack of coordination might be due to poor body awareness, or difficulties in the sensory system, especially visual, vestibular (balance and spatial sense), or proprioceptive (registers force and where the body is in space). How about the child who screams when he touches a viscous substance, such as liquid soap? Most parents, and doctors, would assume that this is just their preference or temperament, but an occupational therapist might see these behaviors as a red flag for sensory integration difficulties and/or developmental delays. When paired with developmental delays, sensory integration difficulties can amplify a child’s inability to meet his milestones.
Our current system does not provide an easy and systematic way to screen all children at regular intervals. Parents might not realize that their child is struggling until years later when problems arise usually in school. Perhaps the child will struggle with social relationships on the playground, will be labeled as inattentive by a teacher, or will struggle academically. Children, especially the ones who show more subtle processing issues and developmental delays, too often can fall through the cracks. These delays can increase over time, making them even more challenging to overcome. Early intervention is essential to help support both children and caregivers. Screenings are essential to identify families and children who need support.
CDI offers screenings, assessments and evaluations for young children in the community. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to thrive. If difficulties are caught early, therapists can help families and children overcome or improve them. Developmental screenings are not meant to diagnose, but they do provide an overview of a child’s strengths and possible struggles. It’s a helpful way to bring awareness to issues that could possibly one day affect the child’s ability to thrive in a school, community or social environment. Assessments are in-depth and specific to a particular domain, such as speech and language, physical development, sensory processing, social-emotional (behavioral), and feeding. Evaluations are also very thorough and assess a child’s overall performance and development. Therapists, through specialized observation and testing, can identify a disability or developmental delay. They look at the child’s language skills (both receptive and expressive), cognitive abilities, physical development, social-emotional development, self-help, and behavior.
CDI routinely offers free developmental screening at our Early Learning Centers. We are also available for more in-depth assessments and evaluations in all domains. Our services are designed to help children meet their full potential. Click here for more information on how we can help.