The development of language skills is an integral part of a child's ability to forge bonds with others. But between 10 and 30 percent of children develop speech and/or language delays. Left untreated, these delays can compromise a child's social, academic and behavioral skills. But when these delays are identified early and proper interventions are applied, children can make remarkable progress. Each year, Kennedy Krieger works with hundreds of preschool-age children who have speech and language delays. In this issue of Touch, several families of children with speech and language delays describe how these challenges were identified and the progress their children have made.
Also in this issue, we explore initiatives at Kennedy Krieger and Marcus Institutes focusing on research and treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS, a leading known cause of intellectual disabilities, also causes facial deformities, small stature and may be linked to a host of behavioral and psychological disorders. Most FAS research has focused on preventing pregnant women from drinking. But current studies at Marcus and Kennedy Krieger are exploring ways to combat the impact of FAS after children are born.
Ten years ago, Mani El-Mahdi displayed behavioral challenges so severe that he spent several months at Kennedy Krieger's Neurobehavioral Unit, an intensive inpatient treatment facility. Now, after participating in the Institute's Life Skills and Education for Persons with Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders program, Mani is preparing to leave school and pursue a permanent job. Find out more about Mani's accomplishments in this issue's Success Story.
Kennedy Krieger's Family Center has joined the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a program designed to improve the treatment of children and families who have experienced trauma. We feature the Center's plans for the $1.6 million grant it received in conjunction with this membership. On the research front, we examine the Institute's work in bioinformatics the study of biology using the tools of computer science.
These stories reflect a tiny fraction of Kennedy Krieger's treatment, research and education programs. We hope you find them as compelling as we do.
Gary W. Goldstein
President and CEO