February 16, 2007

First Steps for Success in School

Baby books are filled with pages of parent’s accounts of firsts: first smile, first steps, first word. Each step is a building block as a child grows, changes and develops. Parents look on with joy, but sometimes with a little uncertainty. There seems to be that little voice in the back of many parents mind that asks, “Is this normal? Should I be worried?”

There is no doubt each child progresses at a different rate. One child may walk at nine months, while another happily waits 14 months. Books, magazines and of course a child’s practitioner, offers parents advice on the various stages of development. But now there is a new resource in the South Bay to help local parents appease any worry and check those very important developmental steps.

“Child Ready. School Ready.” provided by First 5 of San Diego County and South Bay Community Services (SBCS) offers free developmental screenings for toddlers and preschoolers. From gross motor skills to vision and hearing, the screening confirms milestones and in some cases helps detect a need that when identified early can help with a successful treatment.

“Screenings are quick and simple,” says Kathryn Lembo, Director of South Bay Community Services. “Among the different steps evaluated are vision, hearing and speech.”

It can be an uneasy step for parents, Lembo adds. But, delaying treatment can cause more problems down the line.

“If a concern does arise,” says Lembo, “we can offer other free services that address the need early so that a child’s success in school is not compromised.”

Such was the case for a local mom and her four year old son. While visiting a family resource center in her neighborhood, she came across a “Child Ready. School Ready.” information table. She had been concerned about his speech for sometime, believing he may possibly be having issues with his hearing. And as the boy was nearing school age, mom’s concerns grew. After filling out a PEDS (pronounced “peeds”) – Parent’s Evaluation of Developmental Status – a SBCS trained developmental specialist was able to connect the family with a UCSD Shiley Eye Mobile, that conducts full medical assessments on site.

Turned out the boy’s hearing checked out fine, but it was his vision that raised some concern. It was revealed that the four year old was having difficulty with vision in his right eye, impacting his daily living and personality. At no cost to the family, the boy was fitted with new glasses and a fresh start for preschool.

There are many children who suffer with undiagnosed delays in language or other areas. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, this accounts for 17% of children in the United States. Less than 50% of these children are treated before they start school, leaving the rest to deal with difficulties on their own — impacting school readiness and learning.

“Child Ready. School Ready” is just one extra way to make sure your child is growing, developing and on the right path for school. Services are at no cost to families. For more information, to make an appointment, or locate the next “Child Ready. School Ready.” screen-ing sight in the San Diego South Bay region, contact South Bay Community Services at 619-420-3620.

South Bay Community Services is a non-profit organization providing services, support and opportunities for over 20,000 individuals and families in the South Bay Area of San Diego County annually.

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