Policy Issues in Nevada Education
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Children develop in a predictable sequence across skills in communication, physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and adaptive domains. However, there are many factors that impact a child’s growth and learning that may delay their development or cause disabilities. Some children may be identified before or at birth with conditions that cause developmental delays (e.g., children with Down syndrome, premature infants, babies born with addiction). Other children may present developmental disabilities and delays later in early childhood due to neurological or genetic conditions (e.g., autism, Rhett’s syndrome, communication delays) or experience environmental risk factors such as housing instability, toxic stress, injury, or maltreatment. Other children still may present changes in development for unknown reasons. These delays in meeting developmental milestones are often missed or overlooked by parents, child care providers, and physicians leading to late referrals into specialized services and education (McLean, Hemmeter, & Synder, 2013). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes mandates for coordinated early intervening services (CEIS) to help identify children in need of evaluation for specialized services such as special instruction, speech-language pathology, applied behavior analysis, or mental health services. However, despite IDEA mandates and professional recommendations (i.e., American Academy of Pediatrics, Division for Early Childhood, National Association for the Education of Young Children), it is estimated that less than 50 percent of children with developmental delays and disabilities are identified before entering kindergarten (Bricker et al., 2013). Early identification can reduce the cost and needs for special education and services in the future. The value of early identification for developmental delays and disabilities can have many benefits for children, families, and programs.
Supporting the Identification and Referral of Young Children with Disabilities and Developmental Delays in Nevada.
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