Developmental Screening and Early Intervention
What is Developmental Screening?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines developmental screening as the administration of a brief standardized tool aiding in the identification of children at risk of a developmental disorder (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006). The AAP recommends that all children should receive periodic developmental screening using a standardized test. Children identified as “at risk” by developmental screening should go on to have a developmental evaluation to determine the presence or absence of a specific developmental disorder, as well as medical evaluation to identify an underlying cause if possible.
Why is Developmental Screening important?
It is estimated that approximately 17% of children under the age of 18 have some form of developmental disability. Identification of children at risk through developmental screening, followed by appropriate developmental and medical evaluations, can lead to earlier diagnosis of developmental disorders and associated medical conditions. Early identification of children with developmental disorders affords the opportunity for the best health and developmental outcomes for affected children through prompt initiation of specific therapeutic and medical interventions when appropriate. Early diagnosis and intervention can also have a positive impact on child and family well-being, as well as contributing to future savings related to social and educational costs of developmental disabilities.
Maryland Developmental Screening Initiatives
Developmental Screening Work Group: The use of standardized screening tools as recommended by the AAP is not routine practice in most pediatric primary health care practices in Maryland. The Office for Genetics and Children with Special Health Care Needs has brought together Medicaid/EPSDT, the Maryland Chapter of the AAP, the Maryland State Department of Education/Infants and Toddlers Program, and other stakeholders to plan the steps required for implementation of these recommendations on a wider basis throughout the state.
Developmental Screening Implementation Pilot
The Office for Genetics and Children with Special Health Care Needs is supporting a small pilot program in Baltimore City to integrate the use of standardized developmental screening tools into two pediatric primary health care practices.
Pilot Program to Study and Improve Screening Practices for Autism Spectrum Disorders
In FY05, House Bill 579 established this pilot program in the Maryland State Department of Education, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). The purpose of the pilot is to assess screening practices for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in pediatric health care practices, to train providers in the early detection of ASD and in implementation of screening for ASD, and to facilitate access to health care and early intervention services for children identified through screening. The full text of the bill can be found at http://mlis.state.md.us/2005rs/billfile/HB0579.htm. The Office for Genetics and Children with Special Health Care Needs represents DHMH in this project.
For more information about developmental screening, please contact us at 1-800-638-8864.
Early Intervention Coordination Program
Early Intervention services in Maryland are delivered through the Infants and Toddlers Program, administered by the Maryland State Department of Education. This program offers services designed to support families and enhance the development of young children ages 0-3 years with developmental delays and disabilities. Services may include audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, transportation, special instruction, assistive technology, health services, and home visits.
The Office for Genetics and Children with Special Health Care Needs represents DHMH in interagency collaboration around the Maryland Infants and Toddler’s Program. By serving on the State Interagency Coordinating Council, OGCSHCN works toward increasing public awareness of the need for and availability of early intervention services and ensuring appropriate interagency planning and service delivery. OGCSHCN also participates in local program monitoring activities, providing technical assistance and quality assurance for the Infants and Toddlers Program.
For more information about the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program, please contact the program at 410-767-0261 or 1-800-535-0182.