Developmental Screening Empowers Parents

The University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability 2300 Menaul Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87107 Phone: (505) 272-0273 Fax: (505) 272-0386 FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherri Alderman, MD, MPH, IMH-E, FAAP Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, DSI Project Director (505) 272-0386 NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 22, 2009 Parents and caregivers know best how their children are developing. But many parents do not know if their children are developing normally compared to other children the same age or how to initiate conversations with their children’s caregivers about developmental milestones. Most developmental delays can be corrected if identified early. Yet 70 percent of children with delays or behavioral issues are not diagnosed until they start kindergarten. Envision New Mexico, in partnership with The University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability, is empowering parents with the tools and information they need to work with their children’s healthcare provider, track each child’s development, and identify any delays. The mission of the Developmental Screening Initiative (DSI) is to ensure that no child reaches kindergarten with an undetected developmental condition. As of April 23, all babies born at Roswell Regional Hospital and Eastern New Mexico Medical Center go home with a developmental screening record booklet. Parents will use the booklet to chart their child’s development and initiate conversations with their child’s provider about his or her progress. The parent-friendly booklet is intended to educate parents about the importance of regular developmental screenings using standardized tools, and to advocate for children with disabilities. This project is a collaboration with Parents Reaching Out, an organization that helps parents of children with special needs. In addition to its advocacy work for parents, DSI also works with children’s healthcare providers to improve the quality of their developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children receive a standardized developmental screening during their well-child visits with their healthcare provider. Yet only 30 to 40 percent of pediatricians use standardized screening tools. DSI provides training for physicians on the use of standardized screening tools for developmental delays, and is one of only two Quality Improvement initiatives in the state that meet the American Board of Pediatrics Part 4 Maintenance of Certification requirements for physicians. DSI also offers continuing education and training on early childhood development for professionals across the state of New Mexico who work with young children. The lecture series brings together professionals across such diverse disciplines as physicians, nurses, early intervention specialists, daycare providers and preschool teachers. A series of posters created by DSI for use in physicians’ offices sends the message to parents and providers that attention to children’s development and regular screenings are important.

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