NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Early developmental screenings for children ages 1 through 5 will be made available at the city’s public library this Saturday, January 17, thanks to the Children’s Specialized Hospital.

At the New Brunswick Free Public Library, located at 60 Livingston Avenue, registration is encouraged for the free-of-charge developmental screenings, which will be held every 30 minutes from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Experts will be on hand and “sharing valuable resources for parents curious about their child’s early development.”

According to an event announcement from years past, “13% of children in the United States have a developmental delay and many are not identified by the time they enter kindergarten.”

“We know that the earlier, the better when it comes to providing services for children who have delays,” said Amy Norton, developmental screenings coordinator, Children’s Specialized Hospital Kohl’s Autism Awareness Program.

Norton says that the program tests childrens’ “fine motor skills, gross motor skills, communication, and personal/social problem solving.”

Through questionnaires for parents, and through tasks and games for the children to complete, experts will test the children for developmental delays such as autism, ADHD, OCD, among many others.

This is the third year of the community developmental screening program.  The hospital offers 36 free clinics each year across New Jersey.

“Early developmental screening is important because research has shown that early diagnosis of developmental concerns typically is associated with earlier access to intervention,” Norton told New Brunswick Today.

Screenings will take place every thirty minutes, including an interactive questionnaire and discussion between parent(s), child, and staff members. Various resources will be available for parents who are interested in learning more about early childhood development.

The interactive questionnaire that will take place during every screening is called the “Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3.” The standardized developmental screening includes five areas of development: communication, gross motor, fine motor, personal social and problem solving.

Once the screening is complete, the results are explained, educational material is distributed and, if there is a recommendation for further evaluations, the information is reviewed.

The information received by every family after their screening includes a letter identifying if there is a need for further evaluations, age appropriate activities that the family can incorporate in the home to encourage development, and a booklet on what to expect as the child gets older. Personalized information, if necessary, will also be available on where and how to receive additional evaluations.

If there is additional assistance needed with making appointments, or support is desired with how to move forward, the family can meet with a representative from Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPANNJ) directly following their screening appointment. All families will receive feedback on their child’s developmental screen results.

The information shared with the parent or caregiver is customized based on specific needs. In addition to the individualized, interactive and professional screening, parents/caregivers receive a hands-on education on child development. They will be able to take home written material that will aid the child’s development, as well as offer opportunities for increased positive parent/child interaction.

“Whether the information shared identifies a concern or not, each family walks away having a better understanding about their child’s development, and information to guide them for the future,” Norton said.

With the interactive approach of this program, parents are given a hands-on education in regard to child development, said Norton, and leave the clinic having a wealth of information about their individual child.

Early access to appropriate care often promotes the optimal outcome for the patient, said Norton, and this may be especially important for low income or minority children in the US with developmental issues, as multiple studies show these kids often go undiagnosed until older, or are misdiagnosed.

Evaluation services are often limited geographically, or may have long wait lists. The screenings help to make sure that the children most in need are able to access care.

The screenings are made possible by the Kohl’s Autism Awareness program. They are funded by the Children’s Specialized Hospital Kohl’s Autism Awareness Program, which is an umbrella name for a variety of initiatives from Children’s Specialized Hospital.

Children’s Specialized Hospital has over 123 years of experience caring for children with special needs. The hospital serves children affected by brain injury, spinal cord injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays and life-changing illnesses.

Children’s Specialized Hospital has thirteen sites in New Jersey, including one that is connected to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.  Together, the hospital’s sites treat 26,000 children each year, making it the largest pediatric rehabilitation system in the country.

It is New Jersey’s leader in autism diagnosis, treatment and research. 

“Our hospital is dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults by delivering superior specialized health care and medical services, in a safe and caring environment,” says the hospital.

For more information or to schedule a free screening, please call (908) 301-5498.