Demystifying Developmental Screenings and ACEs

Developmental Screenings assess whether your child has or is at risk for developmental delays and can help determine appropriate services and interventions. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressors that can have an impact on early development. Recent research has found that considering ACEs alongside developmental screening is helpful in addressing the special needs of children and their families.

If you are concerned about how your baby or toddler is learning, behaving or developing, early developmental screening and intervention is crucial. Developmental screening for children ages 0–3 is covered under Medi-Cal and most private health insurance plans without additional cost to families. Studies show that high-quality early intervention services for developmental delays can actually change a child’s brain development, increase chances of skills improvement and impact long-term learning outcomes. Early treatment can prevent potential problems with behavior, learning, reading and social interaction later in life.

Skills and abilities addressed by developmental screening include:

  • Physical Development, such as hearing, vision, movement (crawling, reaching, walking)
  • Cognitive Development, such as thinking, learning, remembering, problem-solving
  • Communication Development, such as babbling, responding, talking, listening, understanding
  • Social and Emotional Development, such as getting along with others, feeling secure, behaving in age-appropriate ways

Experiences in the first three years play an important role in a child’s development, providing a foundation for growth and learning. Stress is a normal part of everyday life. However, when unmanaged for a prolonged period of time, stress can impact one’s well-being and development.

Research shows that adverse childhood experiences such as poverty, abuse, neglect and severely depressed caregivers can damage the developing brain and lead to difficulties in learning, behavior and both physical and mental health. These difficulties have an impact on families and communities. Through developing awareness of ACEs and their effect on brain development, individuals and whole communities can take action for change and work to improve the future.

Additional Resources:

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