On January 27th, the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) issued a letter circulated to its membership in Michigan, as well as to local and national news outlets calling on public officials to prepare a long-term plan for monitoring the cognitive health of children in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis.
To read the full text of the LDA letter, click here: http://multibriefs.com/briefs/lda/Editor.pdf
Since April of 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan—facing serious budget shortfalls—switched its municipal water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in what was supposed to be a temporary, cost-cutting move. Unfortunately, the river water is 19 times more corrosive than water from Lake Huron and subsequently, the new water supply—which also was not properly treated for bacteria—began leaching lead from aging city pipes into water flowing to the homes of unsuspecting Flint residents.
The negative effects of lead exposure on the psychological health and cognitive functioning of children has been well-documented over the years. Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued strong warnings about limiting children’s exposure since scientists became aware of the devastating effects of lead in the early 1970s.
With potentially thousands of young children exposed to high levels of lead in Flint’s water, the LDA is recommending state and local officials devise a plan to implement the following:
- Periodic assessment of all two to four year olds testing positive for lead poisoning for early warning signs of learning disabilities and/or neurological impairments, and if necessary, providing early intervention services at school and at home.
- Comprehensive evaluation of all seven-year-olds testing positive for lead poisoning, including a cognitive assessment to identify specific problem areas.
- Assignment of a special education advocate or parent trainer to work with families of all children testing positive for lead poisoning to ensure appropriate services from the Flint school district.
- Recognition by the State of Michigan that many of the children identified with neurological impairments resulting from lead poisoning will need continued supports into and through adulthood.
Further, the organization stated on its web site, “LDA understands that Flint is an extreme example of a problem that exists in many cities and towns across the country. A key component of the LDA mission and vision is to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities for future generations. LDA actions to prevent situations like the one in Flint will help make this vision a reality.”
For more information, head over to the LDA’s web site: http://tinyurl.com/zhzea8x