I recently read a startling statistic – according to Kids Count only 38% of Georgia children under 6 years old received a developmental screening in 2014. That’s a staggering 62% of children in our own state whose potential development delays/disabilities are not being flagged until they have started school.

Why is that important? Because EARLY INTERVENTION WORKS! The sooner your child is assessed, diagnosed and participates in therapy, the more likely he/she will see positive developmental gains.

Here are some important stats:

  • On average, children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were not identified until after age 4, even though they can be identified as early as age 2.
  • Studies show that parents notice a developmental issue before the child’s 1st birthday.
  • 1 in 6 children in the US has a developmental disability (ranging in language impairments to autism and cerebral palsy).
  • Over the last 12 years, prevalence of a development disability has increased 17.1% (1.8 million).
  • About 1 in 68 children in metro Atlanta has been diagnosed with ASD.
  • The prevalence of ASD has increased 289.5% in the last 12 years.
  • Children from families below the federal poverty level had a higher prevalence of developmental disabilities.

Okay, now that I have sufficiently scared you, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful – I promise.

  • The first three years of life, the neural circuits in the brain are the most flexible.
  • 82% of parents believed their family was better off as a result of early intervention.
  • An early intervention study for communication/language delays, showed that only 5% of speech therapy participants had delays after 3 years (compared to 85% in the control group).
  • A compilation of six early intervention studies show that 73% of autistic children gained and maintained useful speech by age 5 when they received early intervention services.

This is where Easter Seals can help you. Our Make the First Five Count is a free, online tool that lets you keep track of your child’s development. Once you start, be sure to check back in every 3 months to make sure things are progressing as they should be. If you have a concern, please discuss your doctor.

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Early intervention services make a difference! Just meet Anna to see how they helped her communicate and flourish.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U.S. Children, 1997-2008; Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2008; Bailey, D.B. Hebbeler, K. Spike, etal. Thirty-six month outcomes for families of children who have disabilities and participated in early intervention, 2005; Ward, S. An investigation into the effectiveness of an early intervention method on delayed language development in young children, 1999; Rogers, S. Brief report: Early intervention in autism, 1999.


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