Does My Child Have a Developmental Disability?
It is often hard to accept that your child may have a developmental disability. Once you suspect that your child has a developmental disability what do you do? Some children receive a diagnosis at birth, others like my children do not. How do you navigate this process and what do you do?
Who to contact First- Pediatrician
The first step is to talk to your pediatrician. Have a list of your concerns, and if possible have someone with you that can watch the child and listen to what the Doctor says. If the Doctor shares your concerns, she should be able to help you figure out your next step. Usually that next step is a referral to Early Steps. If she is not convinced with your concerns the age of your child and potential disability will depend on what to do next.
Who to Contact Next-Early Steps
If you are doing this solo and have a child that is 0-36 months old then you should contact Early Steps. In the state of Louisiana Early Steps is your first stop. Their website is here. Early Steps is an early intervention program that will help with determining if a child needs supports due to a developmental delay. They come to your home and do the determination of eligibility of services.If possible have a friend or family member at the evaluation to help you with the questions. If your child is deemed eligible then they determine what services your child needs. All of the services provided by Early Steps is done in home, and you pay a fee for each visit. If your child progresses through Early Steps to 36 months then their program will go on to Child Search.
If My Child is 3-5 Years Old
Child Search is the public-school systems early intervention program. It begins with children 3 years old to 5 years old. If you suspect that your child has a developmental disability then you can contact Child Search in your parish. Every Parish has a child search and can arrange an appointment for you.At first, they will do a screening to see if your child meets any of the necessary criteria to qualify for a complete comprehensive evaluation. Again, have a second person present to help with the child and to help understand what is happening.
What happens if I don’t agree with the outcome of the screening results? Then you may request a comprehensive evaluation. After the comprehensive evaluation I am still not satisfied with the outcome meaning, my child does not qualify for services? Then you may request an IEE(Independent Educational Evaluation). Make sure that all of your requests are done in email, or fax format so that you have a papertrail.
Have your Own Professionals Diagnose
When you have exhausted the above options to no avail, or you want to take a different approach you can do an independent evaluation yourself with private partners. You can pay out of pocket for a speech evaluation, occupational therapy, and a psychological evaluation. Your insurance may pick up all or most of the cost, it depends on the insurance. These outside reports might be able to be used to aid in Child Search evaluations.
If you go the independent route, based on if your child is already in school you may be able to have an SBLC (School Building Level Committee) committee meeting to determine the child’s eligibility of an IEP or 504. The criteria for eligibility is in this booklet from Louisiana Believes. Another helpful book to help you through this process is the Louisiana Bulletin 1508 .
Child Search or the SBLC committee is how your child can receive an IEP or a 504 and they access the amount of supports necessary for your child to succeed in school. Supports vary and are based on the child’s needs. I can not stress this enough it is based on a child’s needs, not what you, the school, or the teacher wants. My next post will discuss the differences between a 504 vs IEP. I hope this post has helped, please contact me with any questions.