News Article Details

CDSA offers childhood development screenings, free resources for parents

Enid News & Eagle - 4/14/2019

April 14-- Apr. 14--ENID, Okla. -- A year ago, Community Development Support Association began to offer testing for developmental delays in infants and toddlers and has conducted 500 screenings since.

Of the 500 Enid-area children -- ages up to 4 years old -- who were tested, 15 percent were developmentally delayed in some way, CDSA director Cheri Ezell said.

Ahead of delays

Delays can vary by type and severity and may be difficult to detect unless a parent knows what to look for, Ezell said.

Typically they are nothing to be too alarmed about, she said, but delays of any degree must be addressed, and quickly.

"There's a lot of neurocognitive development that occurs in the first three years of life," she said. "When kids don't get what they need in those first three years, it's really difficult to intervene and address developmental delays after that period."

Common delays may be physical, verbal, visual, or auditory.

At certain ages an infant should be crawling, responding to voices, imitating actions of a parent, and if these milestones aren't met when they're supposed to be, it could be an indication of a delay.

"There's just all kinds of very predictable clues for a trained person to discern whether or not a child is on track," she said.

Taking next steps

Screening appointments can be scheduled with CDSA and conducted at its offices, or parents can take the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) online at home.

Upon completion, the online test will submit a report to CDSA, a representative of which will contact parents to discuss the results if there are any red flags.

If delays are present, CDSA can provide useful resources and lessons to help parents get their children caught up in whatever areas in which they are behind.

CDSA has plans to expand the screening program, with the eventual goal of ensuring all young children in Enid are tested for developmental delays, Ezell said.

"We have about 1,500 children born in Enid each year, in a three-year period that's around 5,000 kids that need to be continually assessed for developmental progress," she said. "We've done about 500 screenings so far, and we want to do more, so we're growing that program as fast as we can."

Parents as teachers

Parents are a child's first teachers, CDSA press support specialist Melissa Gibson said, so face-to-face interaction is a great way to encourage development and growth.

"You can work with development, you don't need flashy toys. The most benefit your child will get is by spending time with them," she said, and iPhones and televisions are no substitute, regardless of how educational shows, apps or games are designed to be.

Cheri Ezzell

"The most benefit your child will get is by spending time with them."

-- Cheri Ezzell, CDSA director

"You can't just put them in front of "Sesame Street," and then they learn their ABC's and 123's, you have to have someone interacting with them," Gibson said.

In addition to resources CDSA has offered for years, it began in November teaching Early Birds, a parenting course, in partnership with Enid Public Schools.

"Parents are coming in, and they're learning about development and how children learn through play," Gibson said. Classes are free, as are the books and toys that go along with it.

Call CDSA at (580) 242-6131 for a screening appointment. For online assessment, go to


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