Is the Coronavirus Causing Special Needs Kids to Fall Through the Cracks?

Most child development experts believe “the earlier the better” when it comes to detecting developmental delays in children. However, social distancing due to COVID-19, has made early detection increasingly difficult.

Social distancing is keeping children away from teachers and various other childcare providers, many of whom can be critical sources for early identification of delays. These professionals are often vital in connecting parents to other services in the community, such as occupational and speech therapy. With preschools, public schools, and day cares closed, those children who might need screening for developmental delays may be missed.

With children at home during the pandemic, it is even more important for parents to educate themselves on their child’s developmental expectations.

So how is this accomplished?

Online screening is slowly becoming an essential strategy to try and meet some of these needs. With early intervention, there’s no time to waste. The earlier a child development expert can identify a problem, the better.

How does online screening work?

While there might be slight differences between therapists’ approaches, most therapists walk parents and caregivers through a series of tasks and ask various questions about their child. Part of the screening my require children to perform a certain skill, such as stacking blocks, drawing shapes, and even pronouncing certain words. In some cases, the therapist may need to simply observe the child talking or playing.

This may seem a little confusing to parents, which is why it is essential that therapists communicate their reasons behind the questioning and observing to parents.

Each screen can differ according to the child’s age. Younger children will have more of a parent response screening, where the questions are directed to the parent. As kids get older, more questions are directed directly at the child.

If the screening reveals that there is a potential delay, then further recommendations may be made. This could include full evaluations to a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, developmental psychologist or even a physical therapist.

The important thing to remember is that these resources are out there. If you have a concern about your child’s development, then act now. The earlier the better! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I would be more than happy to help!

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Jason Miller