Times have changed since I was a young child. I remember being dropped off at grandmother’s house and sitting and watching Black and White movies of The Three Stooges on a floor model television in the living room. I remember watching the Price is Right and clapping my hands because I saw the audience do this on TV. Now we have which help children with eye- hand coordination, Leap Frog which helps children read .
As a Social Worker, I am always concerned with the growth and development of my children. I often, compare my kids’ growth to the milestone chart given by the pediatrician to see if my client is developing according to the benchmarks. The questions are, what happens if children are below where they need to be and are there anything parents can do to help? What is Early Intervention? How does it help families? And what happens if a child has a diagnosis as being developmentally delayed at a young age?
Early Intervention is an organization which helps children who may have developmental delays. Early Intervention helps infants and toddlers get intervention and services they need to learn within their first three years of life. These skills include cognitive, physical, communication, and self- help. According to Early Intervention Services, they will tailor services to meet the child’s needs which might include the use of technology, Medical Services, Nutrition Services, Occupational and Physical Therapy Services. Early Intervention also helps parents understand the needs of the child as it is not easy raising a child with special needs parents are offered support to help with this challenging concept.
Early Intervention Services are generally at the request of parents, and sometimes a referral is made by a Developmental Pediatrician. The assessment service is free of charge. The Family Service Coordinator will explain the processes and ask the parent/ guardian for permission to assess the child. According to Parent Center Hub, “The evaluation group will be made up of qualified people who have different areas of training and experience. Together, they know about children’s speech and language skills, physical abilities, hearing and vision, and other critical areas of development. They know how to work with the kids, even very young ones, to discover if a child has a problem or is developing within normal ranges. Group members may evaluate your child together or individually. As part of the evaluation, the team will observe your child, ask your child to do things, talk to you and your child, and use other methods to gather information. These procedures will help the team find out how your child functions in the five areas of development. ”
When the child has a diagnosis by the child’s pediatrician, or a certified Infant and Toddler Developmental Specialist, the parents should do their research about the child’s’ diagnosis. Getting as much information about the diagnosis which includes how this diagnosis will affect their child future and what other milestones they should be aware of for the child.
Assistive Technology is helpful. There many Smartphone applications as well as any items on the I pad application which help with the education of the child with delays. There is also adaptive equipment from agencies such as Fun and Functional and Zyrobotics which used technology to create switches to turn on computers or sensory items for kids who need sensory stimulation. Technology has come up with ways where a child can use eye gazing to answer the question a computer app has asked them.
It is important for parents to know they are not alone. There are communities which help families understand the child’s diagnosis. There support groups at local and community hospitals, as well meet- up support groups for the parent of children with special needs. It is also helpful for parents to know what is being discussed from the local, state and nationally regarding their child’s diagnosis. Parents and caregivers may also benefit from joining different national associations. Children often benefit from going to support groups with their peers. Parent Support groups become impromptu play dates where children can be with similar children who look and act similar to them. National Associations such as Autism Speaks, National Society of Down Syndrome and much more have resources available on their websites which include information sheets, up to date facts and what is happening on the local and national level.
All in all, Children who are given a diagnosis with a developmental delay can receive early intervention services. The referral process in simple and can lead to other doors such as support groups for parents and caregivers in the local community as well as the national level. Support groups help parents communicate with their peers to express any concerns about being a parent of a special need child.