Meet Demarcus, a three-year-old boy who presented to Jaime McKinney, MD, FAAP, at UAB Primary Care Clinic in Birmingham. After evaluation and talking with his mother, Dr. McKinney determined that this little boy had only a four-word vocabulary, not because of autism, but because there was zero word exposure in his home environment due to the educational limitations of his parents.
Demarcus’s life and the lives of the other 1,800 children seen annually at UAB Primary Care have been changed through the generosity of donors and the work of Reach Out and Read-Alabama. More than 80 percent of a child's brain is formed during the first three years of life, and a child's experiences irreversibly affect how the brain develops - for better or worse. Research shows that positive, responsive parenting during the early years creates the strong parent-child bonds that promote healthy brain development.