Diagnosis of Childhood Disabilities
its Therapeutic Implications
Dr. Praveen Suman
With the improvement in prenatal care there is sharp
decline in infant mortality in the last decade. However, survival alone does not
ensure complete developmental and social well-being for the child. In
With developmental disabilities on the rise, there is
much that remains poorly understood, from cause to cure. However, there is one
widely-accepted fact: Early and intensive intervention can have a profound
impact on the quality of life for both children at risk and their families. The
key is early detection and recognizing the signs of a developmental delay or
For children with disabilities, the early years are
critical for a number of reasons. First, the earlier a child is identified as
having a developmental delay or disability, the greater the likelihood that the
child will benefit from intervention strategies designed to compensate for the
child's needs. Second, families benefit from the support given to them through
the intervention process. .
While children with established conditions are usually
recognized during the first weeks of life, children at risk for delay or
disabilities can be identified at any time between the age of birth and five. It
has been estimated that 30% of these children from "at-risk" groups
subsequently demonstrate delays in development. Children who are at increased
risk for developmental problems include
Children at established risk who are diagnosed with
conditions known to result in disability or delay (e.g., genetic conditions).
Children at biological risk because of prenatal,
prenatal or postnatal histories suggesting increased vulnerability to disability
or delay (e.g., prematurity or birth trauma)
Children at environmental risk because of conditions
in their surroundings which might result in disability or delay (e.g., poverty).
Developmental follow-up is advised for children at
high-risk for developmental difficulties. No single, brief developmental
screening test exists that can accurately identify all problems.
For children with complicated medical histories or
early developmental delays, follow-up may be very time-consuming and expensive.
Periodic re-evaluation is important during infancy and
early childhood as most developmental difficulties emerge slowly over time.
Medical history, current health, and rate of progress
must be considered when interpreting any developmental test results.
Comprehensive follow-up includes ongoing communication
with families and with other professionals to ensure that each child receives
the most appropriate interventions as early as possible.
Consultant in Developmental Pediatrics