One of the first terms I heard and researched, on this roller coaster ride, was EARLY INTERVENTION or EI! Every where you look you will read about how important early intervention is for your child with special needs. Ok great…. But what is it? What happens? How do you get started?
In our case, early intervention started the moment I called the State of Alabama to have someone come out an evaluate Sean for developmental delays. Mind you I knew Sean was delayed but I did not think it was that excessive. (100% denial on my part) Fortunately, for our family, someone called me back the next day. (It can take up to a week for most families. )
What happens once you make the call?
1. An initial service coordinator will call you back and ask you all kinds of questions. Everything from why do you think your child needs an evaluation, was your child born on time or early (preemie), to the basic name and DOB, ect. During this initial call, the representative will set up a day and time for your child’s developmental evaluation, which takes place in your home or wherever he or she is most comfortable.
2. The evaluation is a very easy appointment. The day of, two administrators will come to your home. One will engage with your child by playing simple age appropriate games and play with simple everyday toys. The other will watch your child while interviewing you about your child’s development. For the State of Alabama your child must show at least a 25% delay in at least 2 of the 5 developmental areas in order to receive services.
What happens once your child qualifies?
1.You will receive a copy of your child’s evaluation in the mail and your now Service Coordinator will then set up a time to meet with you to write your child’s Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). This basically sets up the goals you hope your child will reach while they are in Early Intervention services. Once that is done your case worker will then look for a program to enroll your child into.
2. In the State of Alabama there are several service programs that offer early intervention. In our case Sean was picked up by United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). They are the ones who will actually administer the EI services to Sean. They will provide the therapists that work with Sean until he turns three years old. ( Again I can only speak for the state of Alabama. It could be the same or different depending on where you live).
Once you have your program set up you no longer have to go through the state to ask questions or make appoints. You will do all of that through your Service Coordinator who picks up the services for your child. We have been so happy with UCP and three therapists that come out once a month to work with Sean. He currently has an Occupation therapist, a Special Services therapist, and most recently a speech therapist.
So to recap, Early Intervention is an amazing tool for you and your child. It provides all kinds of therapies to help your child grow and learn at his or her best. EI can help teach your child social skills, gross and fine motor skills through occupation therapy, help teach your child to communicate through speech therapy, ect. My best advice is if you are given the information do not let denial keep you from looking into it. Ultimately isn’t what we all want for our kids is for them to succeed in life? No matter what their obstacles are? I was scared to make the call but I did it the same day it was given to me. and could not be happier with the progress I have seen.
I hope this has been helpful in explaining how to receive services and what Early intervention is. Again, I can only speak about what we as a family have done and experienced. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment box below. Until next time!
Katlyn- Gulf Coast Mommy