Helping kids with developmental delays

A local research project aims to provide support, resources and information to parents waiting to access services for their kids

Helping kids with developmental delays

Photo credit: Getty Images

In Canada, the waiting period for an assessment to find out if your child may be experiencing a developmental delay can be as long as one year. Once you get a diagnosis, waiting times for therapies and services can be just as long. For many kids, lengthy delays are detrimental because early intervention is key to a successful treatment plan.

In an effort to help parents navigate the health care system, a research project was launched in 2016 to provide support, resources and information to parents waiting to access services.

The BRIGHT Coaching project is free, delivered by phone or online, and is available to parents in Quebec as well as Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Manitoba.

Currently, parents may join until the end of March. Upon enrolment, parents are split into two groups, either receiving the coaching program right away or after 12 months.  The two groups allow the research team to better understand the impact of the coaching program and assess which parts of the program they should make available to all parents.

Parents will learn how to navigate the health care system, what they can expect from the diagnosis process, how to take charge of their child’s development by understanding the importance of play or good eating habits, and how to build family resilience. There are also opportunities to connect with other parents and families across the country, so they can all share their similar experiences and knowledge.

The project is available to English- and French-speaking parents with children 18 months to 4 ½ years old (not yet enrolled in kindergarten) who are waiting for an evaluation, diagnosis or therapy.

For more information on participation, visit child-bright.ca/bright-coaching-recruitment.

This initiative is one of 13 research projects that are part of the CHILD-BRIGHT Network, a national, patient-oriented research initiative headquartered at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre that aims to improve the quality of life of children with brain-based developmental disabilities. These include autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and other intellectual or learning disabilities.

These projects aim to optimize brain development and health outcomes, integrate mental health into care and redesign health care services to be more responsive to family needs.  This includes offering online parenting programs for parents of children with developmental disabilities and helping families of babies born premature transition home from the neonatal intensive care unit.

As many as 850,000 Canadian children under the age of 14 live with a brain-based disability.

For more information on the CHILD-BRIGHT Network, visit www.child-bright.ca.