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Jefferson offering health screening for kids

October 15, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County health care professionals are donating their time Saturday to help screen youngsters from newborns to age 5 for problems that could block their development.

The screening program, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Moose Lodge on W.Va. 9 in Ranson, is meant to help catch any problems that could keep children from developing fully, said Cathy Spence, a Head Start teacher. The screening is free to all children from newborns to 5 years old, she said.

About 30 to 50 professionals are expected to be offering tests Saturday, she said. Hearing specialists, optometrists, speech therapists, physicians, occupational and physical therapists, and developmental specialists will be there.

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"If we're all working together on this, we can really make a difference," Spence said.

With early intervention, the health care professionals can catch any problems that could impact on a child's education and development, she said.

If a child has a hearing problem, for instance, he or she can be fitted with hearing aids before school starts.

Speech therapists also can determine whether a 2-year-old is at the right stage of development in learning to speak or if the child needs tutoring, she said.

Sometimes parents may not realize a child is not developing properly or may be waiting for the child to start kindergarten to begin teaching them, she said.

The children also will be weighed, measured, fingerprinted and photographed, Spence said.

The idea behind Saturday's screening, the first of its kind in Jefferson County, is to provide parents one place to go for services that before would have meant several separate trips, she said.

Spence has worked on setting up the event since May, she said. Plans are already under way for next year's event, which she would like to see include workshops for parents.

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