Are you worried about how your child is developing and wondering if your child needs some additional supports? Have other people said that they think your child is behind in development? As a parent, this can cause concerns or worries, but there are ways to help your child and determine if and what services are needed.
First, it is important to remember that every child develops differently and at a different pace than one another. This is why developmental goals and milestones are given as a spectrum. There is eventually a point where a child would benefit from additional services, but if they are just a little bit slower than their peers, there is not need for concern. Children have different experiences growing up and are exposed to different things and some of these experiences can help their development. It is important to try not to compare your child to his or her peers as this does not take into account these factors.
Secondly, it is important to remember that even if your child does have a delay in one or more areas, that it is not your fault. I have met with many parents who feel guilty that their child has a delay and feel that they did something wrong or did not provide the child with enough experiences. Parents are doing the best that they can and many have different levels of knowledge around development. There is nothing wrong with this and does not mean that you have done anything wrong as a parent. Asking questions and looking for additional resources is a sign that you are helping your child is all the ways that you know how.
It is also important to determine what concerns you have so that you can have them addressed properly. This does not mean that you need to know everything about development and the available resources, but knowing what your concerns are can help to determine who you need to call and talk to. If your child is under the age of three, then you want to contact your local Early Intervention agency. In Illinois, this would mean your local Child and Family Connections which you can look here to determine which is your local agency. When you call them, they will ask what concerns you have so that they can open up a file and start your paperwork. Once the paperwork is completed, they will assemble a team of providers based on your concerns to come out and do an evaluation in your home. If there are other areas that need to be evaluated, the team will help to figure out who else would be beneficial. This is a great place to start and then you can get more information.
If your child is over the age of three, you can start with your local school district. They will do an evaluation based on your concerns, but the only difference is that they are looking for what will impact your child’s learning and academics so there focus is more narrow. They can also recommend outside services if they cannot provide enough minutes for your child due to needing to impact the child’s academics. The other option would be to call a local pediatric therapy clinic. When you let them know what your concerns are, then they could help to determine what evaluations would be beneficial. There are some that you may know who you want to contact such as speech if the child’s speech is hard to understand. There are other concerns that you may not know which specialty would be most beneficial, but asking questions to other can help to determine this.
It is also important to remember that if there are concerns around your child’s development, that contacting providers for services is the first step that needs to happen and reaching out means you are helping. It can be overwhelming at times to try to figure out, but asking questions is always important. You can also ask how you can help between therapy appointments as this will also be important. This does not mean you will need to change your whole schedule around, but maybe just adding a few things or changing a few things. If you have questions about who to contact or just need support or advice around this, feel free to reach out to me.