One of my all time favorite blog posts is by my friend, Jennifer Scheumann of TinyOranges.com. In “Things That Make You Go Hmmm . . .,” she describes an episode that made her wonder about the health of her child. She wasn’t alarmed. She just had “a feeling” about her child’s well-being. As it turned out, Jennifer’s child suffered from an acute condition resulting from a virus. But what if you had “a feeling” about your child as you watched them play? What if you suspected something wasn’t developmentally as it should be?
It turns out that, depending on a child’s age range, an astounding 74-79% of parents were able to accurately detect if their child had a disability, according to “Child: Care, Health and Development,” and in an article in the “American Journal of Diseases in Children,” 80% of children who failed developmental screenings had parents with developmental concerns. These studies demonstrate the power and importance of mothers relying on their own intuition.
There is an organization in Orange County called Help Me Grow that connects hundreds of families every year to services that address their concerns for their children. These parents have often been told their children are fine by their physician, but the mother suspects otherwise.
I learned about Help Me Grow through my interest in Pretend City Children’s Museum and the Good To Go from Head to Toe Initiative which: “aims to educate the community, parents and caretakers about the importance of regular developmental checkups for children age birth through 5-years-old. Through community outreach and partnerships, valuable resources and programming, the Good To Go From Head To Toe initiative aims to provide parents and caretakers with the knowledge of what healthy developmental is and how to uncover developmental milestones at various ages and developmental stages through play.” Help Me Grow is one of the community partners helping Pretend City reach that goal.
“We always encourage mothers to trust their instincts when it comes to their children,” said Rebecca Hernandez, program manager for Help Me Grow. “We know from not only our own experience with parents, but also from several studies that parents are often more accurate predictors about what is happening with their child progress. In fact, physicians are encouraged to listen more closely to these concerns that parents and especially mothers express.”
Help Me Grow serves children birth to six years and their families through its toll free line at 1.866.GROW.025 (866.476.9025). When a mom calls, a Care Coordinator listens to her concerns and will educate and refer to services that may best assist the child and family. They also help the parent navigate the “developmental services system,” which can often be intimidating and confusing.
“Many moms who call us are at the point where they know that there is something happening with their child that is not typical,” Hernandez said. “It can either be as simple as mild delay or sometimes more severe. Either way, moms are usually frustrated because their concerns have been dismissed or not taken seriously. That’s why they really appreciate us – we listen and help!”
Funded by the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, Help Me Grow’s services include:
- -Listening to parent and caregiver concerns to help them decide which services can address the needs of their family.
- -Providing referrals to services that are free or low-cost. Connecting families to developmental screening opportunities for children under 5 year of age.
- -Conducting care coordination and follow-up to see if providers were accessed and if there are any other services that are needed.
- -Finding resources for parents of all income levels, cultures and languages.
For more information, visit www.helpmegrowoc.org