It’s a scary thought. As a parent, you’ve watched your little one play and develop, and something doesn’t seem right. Your child doesn’t seem to be speaking or behaving the way other children do. Friends and family try to reassure you that “every kid learns at his own pace.” But still, you wonder. What if something is wrong? Could my child have a disability or be developmentally delayed?
Share your concerns with your Pediatrician.
Be specific with what you’ve noticed, and what seems amiss. Listen to the doctor’s advice, but remember, ultimately YOU are the greatest advocate for your child. (When I took my son Kyle to the pediatrician, all my concerns were dismissed, and I was sent on my way. Still, I knew something was wrong, so I persisted in getting answers, mainly by changing pediatricians.) Tell your doctor that you would like to have your child evaluated. Ask if you can be referred to the “Child Find System” in your area. If your child is already past preschool age, you may bypass your pediatrician and work directly through the public school system, starting with your child’s teacher. Your child’s principal and staff should know who to contact to get the evaluation process started.
Contact a Parent Training and Information Center nearest you.
These PTIs, as they are called, are usually staffed by parents of disabled children. They are very eager to help. (Contacting them is not an admission that your child has a delay. It’s just a way to schedule an assessment.) To locate a PTI in your area, find the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities web site, www.nichcy.org. This site is a priceless tool to aid you in your search. Browse through the site, but you will need to get to this location: http://www.nichcy.org/states.htm, to locate the resources available to you in your state. Click on your state at the bottom of the page, and you will be directed to a list of agencies. Scroll down until you find programs pertaining to your child’s age. Typically, there is a breakdown of programs for babies and toddlers, and others for preschool-aged children. Make some phone calls, and ask for help. Ask where you can have your child evaluated for a possible disability.
Visit this website: “First Signs” www.firstsigns.org.
This site is dedicated to helping parents determine whether their child has a developmental delay. It lists the milestones that most children should achieve by certain months, and the “first signs” parents might observe when a child may be disabled. The website is another terrific resource for you during this confusing time.
If your pediatrician or family suggests you take a “wait and see” approach, don’t. With most disabilities, early intervention is crucial to your child’s success. Do not wait six months or more to “see” if your child improves. Take steps to get an assessment right away. You do not need your doctor’s permission to do this.
As a parent, the more information you have about your child, the better. An assessment is a starting point. Either you’ll learn that your child is developing normally, and you can put your worries aside, or you’ll be able to get him the help he needs. Knowledge is your ally.