Today's blog post was written by Kelly Pattison, a summer intern in the Advancement department. Kelly is assisting with outreach for the Make the First Five Count campaign. Here she tells us why she's an advocate for people with disabilities and why the Ages and Stages Questionnaire is so important.
My older sister has autism, and according to the UC Davis MIND Institute, that means I was 19 times more likely than the average baby to develop autism or a similar condition. When my sister was diagnosed in 1993 my parents didn’t know much about autism. It wasn’t talked about like it is now. Looking back, my mother says she should have known that Sam wasn’t developing as fast as other kids her age. But as a first time mom I think she did all she could. My parents took Sam to Easter Seals Crossroads where she was diagnosed at age 3. Meanwhile, my mom was pregnant with me.
Since then, Easter Seals began the Make the First Five Count initiative, encouraging parents to test their children for developmental delays. The free Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is available to parents with children up to five years old. Not only does the ASQ point toward problem areas in a child’s development, it serves as a measurement for typically developing children to aim for.
It is undoubtedly in a child’s best interest to identify any developmental delays sooner rather than later. Children can be diagnosed with autism as early as age two. Unfortunately, one million kids enter school annually with an undiagnosed disability, hindering progress in school and causing frustration for the student and their family. I know from experience that the waiting list for disability services can be long, but it’s better to be on the list than miss out on opportunities for your loved one.