How To Help Your Child At Home
Over the last 8 weeks I ran a series of blog posts highlighting what "Normal or Typical Speech and Language Development Looks Like in Children Ages 0 to 5", breaking down developmental stages and milestones by months and years. The goal of the series was twofold: First, I wanted to help educate parents who may not be familiar with childhood development, as knowing what your child SHOULD be doing will help you know when something is delayed. Second, as a professional speech-language pathologist, I also know the importance of a clear understanding of what true childhood development should look like. This knowledge helps us to maintain a realistic perspective when working with children in Early Intervention.
So, now what?? If you are a speech therapist, you have the know-how, tools and resources to treat children who have been diagnosed with a speech and language delay/disorder.
But, what if you are a parent and your knowledge about communication delays and disorders is limited? What if you are not sure where to turn or who to talk to? My next goal is to point you in the right direction!
Here is a condensed outline of the steps to take to get your child the speech and language help they need!
- First, contact your pediatrician and schedule a visit to discuss your concerns. It may help to write down why and what your concerns are before going so that you can clearly communicate this with your child's doctor.
- Next, your pediatrician should be able to connect you with the Early Intervention Services in your area. How services are determined and delivered may vary from state to state, so you will need to inquirer about the policies and standards in your area.
- Next, the team in your area will complete an evaluation of your child. Some offices may send a team of evaluators and therapists to your home to meet you and your child. Other centers may ask you to bring your child to their office where you and your child will meet with the evaluation team. Evaluation team members usually consist of a special education teacher, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. The nature of your concerns may determine WHO actually does the evaluating.
- Once the evaluation is complete, the team will contact you with the results of their assessments and to schedule a meeting. They will write an Evaluation Report (ER), which you should receive in advance of the meeting to give you time to read over the results and determine any questions that you may have.
- At the meeting, you will review the ER with the team and you should have the opportunity to share any and all of your questions and concerns. If your child qualifies for any type of early intervention services, the team members will write a plan to clearly define what your child's strengths and needs are, as well as the goals they will be working on. If your child is under the age of 3, the plan is called an "Individual Family Service Plan" (IFSP) and if your child is 3 or older the plan is called an "Individualized Education Plan" (IEP). ALL of the information on the IFSP/IEP will be reviewed with you by the team members and if you agree with their assessments and recommendations for services, you will be asked to sign to state your agreement, which will put the services into effect.
- Once the documents are signed, speech and language services will begin for your child. It is important to note that services can be delivered to your home (if your child is under the age of 3) or at your child's child care facility or preschool. Remember, the more you are able to be involved with your child's the therapy, the better, especially if they are still very young and are home with you for the majority of their day.
*For any unanswered questions about the above process,
please ask here or contact your local Early Intervention Office.
Join me next week for ways YOU can help your child once they have been diagnosed
with a communication delay/disorder.