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Concerned about your child's development? What to expect after your initial evaluation (Part 2)

Henry shows off his baby signs.
Henry shows off his baby signs.
Photo by Jessica McMaken

The first article in this series discussed how to schedule a free developmental evaluation for your child if you have concerns about his development. This article will let you know what you can expect after the evaluation if your child qualifies to receive services.

If the early intervention team determines that your child qualifies to receive developmental support services you will proceed to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (for kids under 3) or an Individualized Education Plan (for kids 3 and over). This document will spell out the specific services that your child is qualified for and how he will receive them.

For children under 3, services are typically provided in your home. The appropriate therapist (speech language therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, or special educator) will come to your home and provide one hour of therapy a week. These sessions are really more about teaching you, the parent, intervention strategies that you can use in your home to address the concerns you have about your child's development. And don't worry, you won't have to make time to "do therapy" with your child. A key part of early intervention services is teaching parents how to use every day routines and activities to work on promoting developmental skills. There is no charge for these services.

For children over 3, services are typically provided at a neighborhood school in a preschool classroom. The classroom will be made up of other children receiving intervention services as well as children with no special developmental concerns. In this situation, therapists work with the teachers to design a curriculum that promotes skill development in the areas of concern for your child. Your child will participate in the classroom just like any other child and will receive the benefits of a high quality preschool environment in addition to whatever extra support he may need. Again, if your child qualifies for special education services, there is no charge for these services.

It is also important to know that you will have the right to decline services if you do not feel they are appropriate for you child. You also have the right to seek a second opinion from a private specialist (you will be responsible for the cost of the private evaluation). Participating in the free evaluation through your school district does not obligate you to commit to any further services.

So if you have concerns about your child's development, go ahead and call to schedule your evaluation. If your child is experiencing developmental delays, early intervention can help get him back on track quickly. And if he's not, you've gained valuable peace of mind at no cost.

For more information:

See the first article in this series to find out who to contact to schedule a free developmental evaluation for your child. 

For more information about your child's development:

Developmental Milestones For Your Child's First Five Years