Our mission is to provide the families of Arizona with early answers and nurturing support regarding their child’s development and/or behaviors. Every family should have access to early, comprehensive assessments from expertly trained professionals, which will then lead to the necessary steps for each child to have their best future. Children and families deserve this support without extensive wait times or delays in obtaining answers. Pediatric Developmental Connections will provide one of the highest levels of clinical competence and expertise in the state, providing evaluations by medical doctors with pediatric therapists in one location, to bring the highest level of assessments to families.
Our vision is to reduce the wait times for families seeking comprehensive developmental assessments and formal autism evaluations. The current age at which autism is identified in Arizona is currently 4.3 years, and we plan to reduce that age to 3.0 years by the year 2028. Autism Spectrum Disorder is best identified before the age 4 for greater cognitive and social progress for that child. Current rates of autism continue to grow, with 1:38 children in Maricopa County currently being identified with the condition. Our long-term vision is to simultaneously educate other professionals within the healthcare community on the early signs of autism and promote a mindset of “early assessment” in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the “let’s wait-and-see” that families often hear from their healthcare providers. Because a delay in language is often an early sign of autism, children not meeting their language milestones should receive a comprehensive assessment by expertly trained staff prior to the age of 3. This is when the pathways in the brain are most responsive to the therapies that will reduce the impact autism is having on that child. It is critical to find answers early. It should not be viewed as a label, but rather early access to care and the opening of doors to support.
Additionally, we will provide access to Dyslexia testing for school aged children struggling with reading and writing. Dyslexia is considered a neurobehavioral disorder which impacts 7-17% of the general population. Early diagnosis and a treatment plan for children in their learning to read years ensures that they will be ready to read to learn by 4th grade. Unfortunately, the school system is only required to step in when children are failing. Once they do so that children are failing, they typically do not provide the appropriate therapies for children with Dyslexia to learn to read. This leaves many children behind. Our goal is to provide a team of certified specialists who will work to reduce the wait times for families to get in for a comprehensive assessment and provide a thorough care plan with the next steps for families to follow. Current wait times across the country for these assessments range from 6 months to 2 years delaying critical care and support that can impact a child’s future.
There is a great need across the country to provide comprehensive developmental assessments for young children experiencing delays in their development, in order to determine not only what difficulties they may be experiencing, but why. Early identification of a child’s specific needs is imperative, as immediate intervention is critical for the long-term trajectory and quality of life for that child. Every child with a suspected delay in their development should receive a thorough assessment from certified staff prior to the age of 3. The neuroplasticity of the brain at this age lends itself to improved treatment outcomes and better cognitive and social skill development if the child receives not only early support, but the correct supports. With a goal to be a leader in the assessment of young children with developmental delays, PDC will continue to keep up to date on these ever-changing areas of medicine.
Our values and standard of care for each family are extremely high. We provide professional assessments with a high level of clinical competence and use the results of those assessments to create an individualized plan of care for each child, so that they may maximize their developmental potential. We then discuss the plan of care and assist families in navigating the next steps, meshing the plan of care with each family’s own values and needs. We pride ourselves on a nurturing approach and our assessments will be completed in playrooms specially designed to support the needs of young children.
Pediatric Developmental Connections was created after a very unique relationship between medical staff and the pediatric therapy community developed and took hold. A team of developmental specialists was placed within a pediatrician’s office to allow families to have access to a wide variety of care within one location. Formal autism assessments with clinically certified specialists in Autism Spectrum Disorder were also provided, right in the pediatrician’s office. Families with concerns at well-visits were then able to immediately access support and answers within the medical office with which they were comfortable visiting and had established a relationship. This led to an influx of patients establishing care with this office, knowing that a wide array of developmental services, including assessments for autism, were immediately and easily accessible. This reduced both the stress and wait times for families with young children experiencing delays in their development. It also facilitated easy communication between the development team and the child’s primary care practitioner, as all were in the same practice and working fluently together. After a period of more than 3 years, the vision and need for a larger space for these services to both continue and expand was born, as over 2,000 developmental and autism assessments were completed during that time period. Pediatric Developmental Connections will start a new path in our suite on the campus of Banner Desert Hospital that has been purposefully designed to reduce stress for children and their families. We are very excited that this unique partnership, blending medical doctors with pediatric therapists and developmental specialists into one space, has allowed us to continue our mission to support the children and families of Arizona. We hope to provide early access to evaluations for all children that need this without losing precious time developmental months early in a child’s life. There is a critical shortage of specialists who provide comprehensive assessments across the country, with wait times for autism appointments often 6-months to 2-years. Our expertise and support will reduce these wait times, while also reducing the stress families face as they seek out specialists who can provide answers regarding their child. Families will often bounce back and forth between their pediatrician, speech therapist, or other developmental specialist in trying to access the correct supports for their child. Pediatric Developmental Connections will provide comprehensive assessments across several developmental domains in order for families to be able to determine all of their child’s developmental needs. PDC will also support families in navigating the next steps after assessment by directly supporting families and working with their primary care provider, an equally important need for families in an often confusing and complicated healthcare system. Your child deserves our best care, and we are here to support you every step of the way!
Pediatric Developmental Connections will have a primary focus on young children ages 12 months to 6 years, with comprehensive developmental and autism assessments being provided to this age group. There will also be a limited number of appointments allotted for evaluations for older children with autism and/or dyslexia testing.