Early diagnosis is crucial, but identification without meaningful access to services is an empty effort.
The evidence supporting early identification and intervention to address the needs of young children with developmental delays is clear and unequivocal. Early intervention can have a profound impact on the quality of life for children and their families; the key to success is early screening, detection, and treatment. Absent these vital services, children frequently enter school requiring more intensive and costly support, and generally never catch up to their peers.
Nationally Easter Seals estimates, of the five million children under age five at risk for developmental delay, only one million or 20% are identified and receive needed early intervention services prior to beginning school. Generally, only those with the highest need, who meet federal IDEA or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act criteria (a 25% delay in two or more areas or a 50% delay in one area), receive services through their local school system.
Sprouts is UNIQUE, as a therapy provider. As a nonprofit, we have the opportunity to utilize a multidisciplinary approach to working with young children. In addition to speech and occupational therapy services, our team includes child development specialists, licensed clinical social workers, and a developmental pediatrician; providing a more comprehensive approach to the assessment and treatment of a child’s developmental needs.
A primary point of entry into the Sprouts system is the online Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) a nationally recognized and widely used developmental screening tool found on the Sprouts website. A child’s parent/caregiver completes the secure online questionnaire, which looks at communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem-solving and personal-social skills, and behavioral health. The ASQ-3 and ASQ-SE2 screenings are completed by engaging in age-appropriate developmental activities with the child, then submitted online and reviewed by the Sprouts team of developmental clinicians. Caregivers are then contacted with results.
If results indicate there are no concerns, caregivers receive an email with attachments that include the child’s unique developmental profile, an explanation of results, age-appropriate developmental activity handouts, and a reminder of the next available screening interval. If results indicate any developmental concerns the Sprouts team, made up of highly skilled clinicians, makes contact with the family to discuss possible next steps. The following steps may include soft intervention with monitoring and re-screening, or if further evaluation is indicated, Sprouts clinicians are available to provide comprehensive assessment and therapy.
The most common way a child is referred to Sprouts is by their primary physician when there are developmental concerns. The physician referral generally begins with an appointment to our speech and/or occupational therapists and often followed by an appointment to see our developmental pediatrician.
Click to watch a short video welcoming you to our office and a little about what you can expect when you bring your child in for an assessment.
We continually educate the broader community about the importance of early screening and intervention by making the ASQ screening link open to the general public. We’re building a larger long-term public health capacity by developing new partnerships to provide screenings which currently includes work with case managers, nurse-family partnerships, home visiting programs, churches, public and private schools, therapeutic court programs, childcare centers, physicians’ offices, and many others.
The Sprouts Child Development website and social media sites provide targeted and actionable child development education and resources for families and caregivers. We offer resources to help anyone who has, or works with, young children to identify and learn what developmental skills and milestones a child should be mastering at certain times, and corresponding activities they can engage in with the child to promote those skills. For example, our Early Literacy Videos focus on helping parents and caregivers recognize everyday early childhood actions and behaviors that are tied to early literacy. It isn’t hard to understand why, before viewing our videos, a parent may not realize that the fine motor skills developed by an eight-month-old picking up a Cheerio, are setting the stage for learning to write just a few years later.