Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Checking Out Young Kids

Nearly fifty years ago when I was beginning my graduate work in child psychology, I was one of the first members of my family to notice and want to do something about the strange behaviors of my nephew Dean. He was about two years old, without speech and chewing on the back of his hand. It was appalling and tragic. It turned out that Dean was autistic, and would now be a child who would be considered as being at far end of the autism spectrum.

Dean was given just about all of the therapies and interventions that were then available through UCLA and its neuropsychiatric clinics, as well as the therapy that was part of Dr. Ivar Lovaas in the psych department. Dean eventually had to be hospitalized at the then Camarillo State Hospital and he died in his early 30s at a group home for similarly disabled adults.

Later in my career in the early 2000s when I was in a position to generate funding for the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring for a project that would focus on the needs of special needs kids and their families, I initiated and generated the first online questionnaire for alerting parents of young children to the possibility that their child did have special needs that required professional attention. That questionnaire, the CICC Discovery Tool, then got fairly good usage in LA County where we had funds to publicize its existence.

The Tool asks parents to indicate how their child is currently functioning in terms of his or her
(1) development of Motor skills (physical development),
(2) thinking and learning (cognitive development),
(3) listening, cooling and speaking (receptive and expressive language development),
(4) seeing, hearing and touching (sensory development)
(5) making friends and showing feelings (social and emotional development) and
(6) dressing, washing, and feeding themselves (daily living skills).

Many parents and child care workers have made excellent use of the results of having taken the tool online. In some instances, they have used the results, which come out in the form of a developmental profile, to convince pediatricians and others in the helping field, that a child does need assistance right now. In most instances, parents found out that their kids were developing in line with normative age expectations.

In either cases, they were also alerted to parent training programs that could help them be better Moms and Dads. So the Tool also puts you in contact with really great resources to make family lives richer and more harmonious, whether or not your kids look like they are underdeveloped or disabled in any way.

The Discovery Tool is available online on CICC's website. There is also a book version of the Discovery Tool available from CICC.

Do use this pioneering alerting tool to check out your children five and under, or to have kids in your family or the kids of friends who look like they are not growing at a normal rate

Its use can change lives for the better.

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