Give your child the best start available by taking advantage of Early Intervention options for potential delays or disabilities
Having a baby is a joyous, busy, and often confusing phase of life. Even if you have other children, each infant is like a blank canvas that requires a willingness to let go of what you thought you already knew to adapt to a new personality. As a result, the parenting process is a continuous learning opportunity, with new challenges and achievements to be experienced and enjoyed.
However, it can be difficult to determine the difference between unique quirks and genuine developmental concerns as you watch your child grow into their own identity. The best course of action is always to discuss any worries with your pediatrician and schedule an evaluation as soon as possible. Early Intervention is a federal program that provides professional assessment and services to children and families from an early age.
Finding out that your child has a delay or disability comes with a lot of emotions, but the best way to help involves working with an expert who can help you develop a treatment plan. Meeting the individual needs of your child allows them to feel safe and supported in a way that will nurture their future growth. Learn more about Early Intervention in Virginia to get support for developmental delays and special health care needs.
What is Early Intervention
Early Intervention is an umbrella term that covers a collection of services provided to children from birth through age three by public and private agencies to enhance a child’s growth and development.
Early Intervention services include speech therapy, physical therapy, and other services to address the developmental needs of the child. Providing early therapeutic opportunities teaches children to overcome challenges, learn new skills, and develop confidence that will help them succeed in school and life.
Early Intervention programs are available throughout the United States and associated territories and provide free or reduced-cost services for eligible children.
How is eligibility determined
If you’re concerned about your child’s development, address it with your child’s doctor first and ask about an evaluation. However, you can also contact Early Intervention independently for an evaluation of a child under 3 years old. Doctors often don’t have the same one-on-one contact that parents or other caregivers do, so don’t automatically discount your instincts that something may be wrong.
If your child is over 3 years old, contact any local elementary school and ask to be connected with their special education director for the school or district.
In the state of Virginia, contact the state toll-free number for the Infant & Toddler Connection at 1-800-234-1448, or view the directory for your county.
Evaluations are free and worth the peace of mind. During an evaluation, a qualified professional will assess the general status of the infant or toddler in the following areas:
- Physical (including vision and hearing)
If the professional determines that your child has a delay or disability, they will help develop a plan for treatment. However, parents don’t have to accept services and there is no charge for screenings and assessments.
If you do decide to pursue recommended treatment, you will work closely with experts to develop a written Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that will support the child and family until the child is 3 years old. The IFSP will lay the foundation for services your infant or toddler will need to support their development.
Although finding out that your child has a developmental disability or delay may feel like a significant setback, your response has the power to change their life and education. Investigate the Early Intervention program and services in your area, make an appointment for an evaluation, and start helping your child find the support that they need to overcome personal challenges.
The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.