Early warning signs of developmental disabilities

Oct 26 2011 - 10:43am

SALT LAKE CITY -- In Utah, one in every nine children has a special health care need, chronic health condition, or disability.

In an effort to educate parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities, the Utah Department of Health on Wednesday launched the Learn the Signs. Act Early campaign at University of Utah Health Care's Westridge Health Center.

As part of the campaign, a new UDOH website, www.health.utah.gov/utahactearly, will give parents tools to help them track developmental milestones in the fight to recognize and address early childhood delays.

Early identification allows parents to seek help during the crucial period of a child's early development. The sooner problems are identified, the better the chance children will get help and reach their full potential, health officials said.

Many conditions, such as hearing and vision impairments, autism, and intellectual disability, can be identified early by watching for children to reach milestones like talking, walking, pointing, and responding when parents call their name.

The UDOH will reach out to as many families as possible through community meetings, Internet advertising, and social media outlets.

Some of the milestone tracking tools will be available from local partners, the UDOH Office of Vital Records and Statistics will include milestone lists with birth certificates, and U of U Health Care's community clinics will be offering tools during well-child visits.

"Acting early to screen for developmental disabilities can lead to interventions that may help with or reverse those delays," said Paul Carbone, M.D., U of U Health Care pediatrician. "Enrolling children in early intervention programs and taking advantage of proven therapies can help keep them from falling further behind as they start and progress through the school years."

For more information, visit www.health.utah.gov/utahactearly.

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