*This is a sponsored post in partnership with First Words. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
I will never forget the day I picked up my daughter from daycare and her babysitter suggested I have her screened for developmental delays. Nor will I ever get rid of hearing the results- she was diagnosed with global developmental delay. But, I believe there are always silver linings and so today I am happy to share with you the importance of those two days and how they changed my daughter’s life in the best way possible thanks to early detection screening & the resources and support we received after her diagnosis. Today I am sharing signs to look for to make sure your child is on track thanks to First Words’ 16 Gestures by 16 Months book.
16 Gestures Your Baby Should Make By 16 Months- should your child be screened for communication delays?
Even though Liv was my 5th child, I had no idea what social growth charts were or how to tell if my child was delayed. Looking back now I am so thankful her babysitter did because early detection has helped to bridge the gap for my daughter. I know for a fact she would not be enjoying the success that she is without the help of early detection and the support that came with it.
The Importance of Early Screening (for communication delays)
Monitoring your child’s growth and development is extremely important. Did you know that early detection of a developmental or communication delay can help potentially improve, and sometimes drastically, a child’s chances to catch up to their peers?
From my experience, it’s not always your pediatrician who catches these types of delays. In fact, I brought up my daughters lack of communication and language with her doctor and she just brushed me off saying that children develop those skills at different times. Thankfully, Olivia was screened and we caught her delays pretty early. However, I think we could have caught them even sooner which is why I encourage you to read through this post and have your child screened early.
The reason it is important to screen your child early on is that when a delay is detected parents are able to become educated and resources become available to help their child move towards hitting those milestones which potentially results in better success in school & life. Former President & CEO of Autism Society of America (or ASA) states in Parents Magazine, “That’s because the younger we are, the more adaptable our brains are…”
Early detection allows families to get the proper development support & services their child needs to succeed and thankfully services like The First Words in FL is helping to perform these early screenings for families in FL at no cost!
Want to know if your baby should be screened? Check out The First Words 16 by 16 series here and learn the 16 gestures babies should be making by the age of 16 months old.
What is First Words?
The First Words Project is a Florida based initiative aimed at identifying early signs of developmental language disorders, autism spectrum disorder and other communication delays in children from 9 to 24 months of age.
It is actually part of a research investigation by the Florida State University Autism Institute. They believe that there is great value in helping families gain access to early intervention services and so they are trying to improve screening tools to help make that happen.
Some of The First Words Tools include these awesome resources that can be printed or downloaded.
- Social Communication Growth Charts
- Everyday Activities for Toddlers and their Families
- Importance of Early Intervention Sheet
- The 16by16 Series: A collection of online lookbooks to help families learn about key communication and development milestones
Plus, if your child is between 9 and 18 months old The First Words Project will screen them and give you (the parents) access to their Growth Chart membership at No Cost! This membership has all sorts of cool perks like helping you track important milestones and receiving development tips. Learn more here.
In the past, many families had to wait until a child was older before they could be screened but The First Words Project uses a digital screening tool call the Smart ESAC (The Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders). This tool allows for parents to screen their infants and toddlers for skills that develop before children learn to talk like gestures, sounds, actions, etc.
When a family completes the screening they receive The First Words Membership which helps them gain access to valuable growth charts and helps parents track their child’s progress over time to make sure their development stays on track.
The First Words has set a goal to try and drive 30,000+ screenings in 2018 and I hope you will help me spread the word!