Child development experts say the earlier the better when it comes to identifying children with developmental delays, but social distancing in the wake of COVID-19 has made early identification difficult in some cases.
"School and child care providers are critical sources for identification of delays and for linking parents to other services in the community. Since child care centers and schools are closed, many children who need screening for developmental delays may be missed," said Melissa Barnett, associate professor in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Even before the pandemic, many families in rural areas lacked access to in-person screenings for developmental delays, Barnett said.
"Online screenings are an essential strategy to try to meet some of these needs because there's really no time to waste. Earlier identification and intervention is always better," Barnett said.
To help address the screening challenge in rural areas, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has started offering free virtual developmental screenings in Arizona's Pinal and Gila counties and in the San Carlos Tribal Community. Screeners with Cooperative Extension use the ASQ3 and the ASQ-SE – Ages and Stages Questionnaire Third Edition and Ages and Stages-Social Emotional – via Zoom, walking parents or caregivers through the instructions and asking them questions about their children.
To learn more about UArizona Cooperative Extension's developmental screenings, visit https://extension.arizona.edu/developmental-sensory-screening.
Those in Pinal County interested in screenings can email Turner at ETurner@cals.arizona.edu. Those in Gila County can reach out to Chrisann Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those in the San Carlos Tribal Community can reach out to Thuy Bishop at email@example.com.
For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.
For UANews coverage of COVID-19, visit https://uanews.arizona.edu/news/covid19.