Children who demonstrate several early warning signs may have developmental delays. They will benefit from early intervention whether or not they meet the full criteria for an autism spectrum disorder. Parents are the experts regarding their children’s behavior and development and they should not hesitate in brining their concerns to the attention of professionals.

There are now some free on-line resources that allow parents to screen their children for behaviors that may indicate a developmental delay. One such tool is the CSBS DP Infant-Toddler checklist.

The CSBS DP™ Infant-Toddler Checklist is the first step in routine screening to see if a developmental evaluation is needed. Rather than waiting to refer a child who is not yet talking for evaluation, the ITC enables you to take an early look at a collection of 7 key predictors of later language delays.

A study in The Journal of Pediatrics ("Detecting, Studying, and Treating Autism Early: The One-Year Well-Baby Check-up Approach") found that using the CSBS DP Infant-Toddler Checklist as a screening tool at children’s 1-year check-up was a promising way for health care professionals to identify children in need of further evaluation for autism and other developmental delays.

The checklist and scoring sheet are available for free download at: If there are concerns the checklist should be brought to a developmental paediatrician for assessment of the child.Read more

Down Syndrome

Portrait of beautiful young girl on the playground.Down syndrome is a genetic condition. There are three types of chromosomal patterns that result in Down syndrome: trisomy 21, transolocation and mosaicism. A blood test is required for chromosome analysis, and the type of pattern is determined at that time.  Ninety-five per cent of people with Down Syndrome have trisomy 21, which means there is an extra number 21 chromosome in each cell. Two to three per cent of people with Down syndrome have a translocation pattern. In translocation, during cell division, a part of the number 21 chromosome breaks off and attaches itself to another chromosome, usually the number 14 chromosome. Approximately two per cent of people with Down syndrome have mosaicism. In this case, a faulty cell division occurs in one of the early cell divisions after conception, resulting in some cells having 46 chromosomes and some having 47. The percentage of cells with 47 chromosomes instead of 46 varies from person to person.

The range of medical conditions and abilities can vary widely for people with Down syndrome. Therefore, each person with Down syndrome has his or her own strengths and weaknesses that no one can predict before birth. In general, people with Down syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, low muscle tone, and higher chances for some health issues, particularly heart conditions.Read more

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes a range of disabilities that result from exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. The medical diagnoses of FASD include: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), partial FASD (pFAS) and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) .

FASD is the leading known cause of preventable developmental disability among Canadians. It is estimated that FASD affects approximately one percent of the Canadian population. FASD cannot be cured and has lifelong impacts on individuals and their families. Effects, including alcohol-related birth defects, can vary from mild to severe and may include a range of physical, brain and central nervous system disabilities, as well as cognitive, behavioral and emotional issues.

There is a very scholarly  Canadian Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) toolkit for physicians regarding diagnosis of FASD, at

Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD)

Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) provides a wide range of family-centered supports and services. Services are delivered to strengthen parents’ abilities to assist their child to reach his or her full potential and participate in activities at home and in the community. The program is voluntary and may offer some funding to assist with the extraordinary costs of raising a child with a disability. Children with a disability require a medical diagnosis or medical documentation prior to being considered eligible for FSCD. The application for FSCD can be found on-line at The parents of eligible children will have an opportunity to meet with a social worker to discuss how the disability affects their child and services or supports that could be of benefit to the family. Disability related counselling can be requested as part of the contract between the family and FSCD. This allows for reimbursement of counselling fees for disability related issues such as emotional issues related to the diagnosis and treatment, and many other disability related issues.

Physical Disabilities

A physical disability is any condition that permanently prevents normal body movement and/or control. There are many different types of physical disabilities. Some of the main ones include: muscular dystrophies, acquired brain and spinal injuries, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy. Some children with physical disabilities will have other disabilities, such as intellectual, visual or hearing impairments. They may also have communication difficulties or other medical conditions such as epilepsy or asthma. When a child has several different types of disability, professionals often talk about multiple disabilities rather than listing separate conditions.

There are many different causes for physical disabilities. These include:

  • inherited or genetic disorders, such as muscular dystrophy
  • conditions present at birth (congenital), such as spina bifida
  • serious illness affecting the brain, nerves or muscles, such as meningitis
  • spinal cord injury
  • brain injury

Many professionals can help children with physical disabilities and can teach the parents important skills. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and therapists are among those who can assist children with physical disabilities. Professionals and agencies can provide advice about equipment for children with physical disabilities.
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