Developmental Delay Screener – Ga Tech

This screener is to serve as an inexpensive, accessible, and scalable screener for developmental delay based primarily on the CDC’s Learn the Signs Act Early campaign.

I am currently working on the development of this screener targeted at low income families under the advisement of Gregory Abowd, PhD as a part of my Masters Project.

During the early years of life, children grow not only physically, but also mentally and socially. Many children however, do not develop on a regular schedule. The challenge we face is figuring out how a parent can know rather or not their child is developing normally. In school, children are placed side by side with other children and those with developmental delays may start to be identified by teachers. Sometimes, parents of children with developmental disabilities such as autism believe that their children have other issues such as hearing loss and take them for screenings where recommendations are made to have them screened for developmental disabilities by professionals in other fields. The problem is that many children do not have access to appropriate professional care providers, and school age is long after precious treatment time has already been missed. There is tremendous need for earlier detection of developmental delays and disabilities. There is also a simultaneous need for increased scalability of the screening methods, particularly into low income households. With autism spectrum disorder prevalence rates of 1 in 150 or higher on average according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the world is in need of a better way.

This project seeks to develop an inexpensive, accessible, and scalable screener for developmental delay based primarily on the CDC’s Learn the Signs Act Early campaign. The screener will be administered using a dial in touch-tone system, which offers inexpensive and widely accessible access. A parent or guardian who calls into this system will be prompted for basic demographic information, for data collection and anonymous unique identification, and then presented with a series of questions regarding their child’s development for which they will provide responses by pressing digits on their phone.

Upon completion of the screener, the participant will immediately be notified of their child’s results. If the score is low, indicating the possibility of a delay, they will be provided with information on what to do next. This information will include directions on who to contact in order to get their child formally diagnosed and where to go for more information on what a low score on the screener actually means.