Screening Can Only Have Positive Results

ScreeningCan 385 x298Earlier in my career, I worked as an applied behavior analyst for children with autism. Most of the families I assisted had waited to ask for help for their children for a variety of reasons. Cultural issues, stigma or fear, confusion, and lack of awareness were just a few.

But the waiting didn’t end there. Once receiving a formal diagnosis, children then had to wait to be assigned to a provider, and again for services to begin. Sometimes this took months and other times years. By the time everything fell into place, many children aged out of “Early Start,” California’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers.

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Developmental Playgroups Help Kids Catch Up

playgroups2Children behind on their developmental milestones are getting help catching up, thanks to the developmental playgroups we’re funding at our First 5 Centers.

We launched the playgroups in 2013 on the heels of our new developmental screening program, which led to an increase in children being identified with developmental concerns or delays at a time when state funding for early intervention services had dwindled. With delays not serious enough to receive state-funded services, yet still in great need, we created the playgroups to make sure these vulnerable children didn’t fall further behind. Continue reading

Moving Toward Developmental Screening for All Children

screeningMore than 4,400 children have received developmental screening since we began training our partners to provide this critical yet underutilized service three years ago. Developmental screening is an important first step in diagnosing children who have developmental delays or autism, yet many young children fail to receive it.

To address this need, we started training children’s services providers on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) in 2011. Since then, 280 providers from 58 agencies in Contra Costa County have been trained. Contra Costa County Public Health Nurses account for half of all providers trained.

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April is Autism Awareness Month

rosa3The prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States and almost 1 in 42 boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest autism prevalence report released last month.

The report tracks autism rates in 11 communities in the U.S., representing about 9 percent of all eight-year-olds. None of the communities tracked are in California.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that occurs when the brain has trouble functioning properly. It affects a child’s ability to speak, learn, and communicate with others. While there is no cure for autism, early intervention can help. Children who are diagnosed at a young age and receive early intervention services show improvements in learning and communication skills. Continue reading

Rosa’s Boys


Rosa’s family, featured in our annual report in 2006

Rosa Valledor could barely mention the word “autism” when her oldest son Sid, then age three, was diagnosed in 2003.  But with help from the Care Parent Network, a nonprofit that supports parents raising children with special needs, she learned how to access services for her son and found endless support for herself as she faced the challenges of raising a son with autism.

It wasn’t long before she joined a Spanish-speaking support group, began organizing workshops for other parents who had children with autism, and was advocating at local school districts to ensure children received appropriate special education services.

When Rosa’s second son Peyton was also diagnosed with autism, she was especially grateful to be in the Care community. Although receiving a diagnosis that your child has special needs is devastating, Rosa says, it is important to “dust yourself off” and find support for you and your family immediately, “Care helped me get connected to a community I didn’t know existed.” Continue reading

New Screening Program Finds 1 in 5 Kids Had Possible Delays

ASQ_1BIn our first year implementing a new developmental screening program, we found that 20 percent of children screened had possible delays in their development. Developmental screening is an important first step in diagnosing children who might have developmental delays or autism, yet many young children fail to receive it.

“About one in five children face developmental disabilities or disabling behavioral problems before age 18, but only half are identified before age five,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “Developmental screening increases the chances of identifying children with developmental concerns when they are very young – the time when intervention is most effective and least expensive.” Continue reading

April is Autism Awareness Month

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The previous estimate was 1 in 110.

The CDC report found that:

  • ASDs are almost five times more common in boys than girls, with 1 in 54 boys identified.
  • The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah.
  • The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.
  • While more children are being diagnosed by age 3, 40 percent of the children weren’t diagnosed until after age 4.

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