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New Report Looks At Benefits Of Assessing Mild Developmental Needs In Early Childhood

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A lot more attention has been paid in recent years to addressing the needs of kids with severe developmental delays and diagnoses like autism. But a new study finds that we're not offering the best help to kids who may have more moderate needs.

The study looks at how Connecticut, and communities in four other states, use what's called Mid-Level Developmental Assessment, or MLDA, to help identify mild to moderate behavioral and developmental concerns in children under age 6. Things like speech delays or behavioral issues.

Lisa Honigfeld of the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut said they're "talking about the children who don’t meet those strict eligibility requirements, but yet are clearly at risk for delay. So it really is all those kids who fall outside of those high end diagnosable conditions."

The report estimates that while approximately 13 percent of young children have severe delays warranting intensive intervention, a far greater proportion of children have delays that are mild to moderate. The goal said Honigfeld, is to prepare these kids for kindergarten and prevent them from slipping through the cracks.

“We found that children really needed a variety of services to promote their optimal health and development," Honigfeld said. "Some of them were related to dental care or related to speech and language services. Children needed playgroups. Parents needed family support services. Mostly we found that the parents needed support in their parenting.”

According to Honigfeld, many of these services are covered under insurance, some are funded through grants, and others are offered for free.

The report was released by the Child Health and Development Institute in collaboration with the Connecticut Children's Medical Center and the Village for Families and Children

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.

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