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Online service helps parents screen for autism, mental health issues

June 15, 2011
by News release
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San Diego — Parents and teachers concerned about a child's mental health and development can now get immediate answers from an online screening with Project SKIP (Screening Kids for Intervention and Prevention).

Project SKIP was developed by Dr. Bonny Forrest, a psychologist and attorney, who has more than a decade of experience working with children with mental health issues and development disabilities, including autism.

"Project SKIP has been my passion for more than 10 years," said Dr. Forrest. "We have developed the program to effectively and efficiently screen children for social-emotional, cognitive, and developmental delays (including autism) through the use of gold standard on-line instruments."

Project SKIP is for kids from the ages of two through 18.

"In May," noted Forrest, "a U.S. Government study found that 1 in 7 children have a developmental disability. Yet sadly, only about 50 percent of children with developmental problems are identified before they enter school. The parents and teachers of these children deserve to have a reliable screening tool at their disposal."

With SKIP, any parent or teacher can log on, any time, and for a $20 fee, get immediate feedback a child's behavior in relation to other children of the same age.

Dr. Forrest emphasized that the screening does not provide a diagnosis, but begins the process of understanding a child's mental health and developmental needs to access supports at home and in school.

In addition to the online screening, Dr. Forrest will provide parents and teachers with a 15 minute consult if their child is found to be "at risk" for a mental health issue or development delay. The consultation will focus on helping the parent identify any necessary follow-up services.

"We need to take mental health and developmental screening to the level of prevention in this country," said Forrest. "We brush our teeth every day, why aren't we screening for these issues regularly?"

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