We all know that our kids grow up fast, and it seems like childhood flashes by in the blink of an eye. It’s important that we make the most of the time we have with them when they are little and follow their development as they grow. That’s why well check-ups at the doctor and dental appointments are a great resource for making sure our kids are on track and healthy. Despite these appointments, sometimes kids with challenges or exceptionalities get lost in the shuffle because it is hard to catch everything in a short visit. As parents, it’s easy to forget to mention a concern to the doctor or we just aren’t sure what the risk factors are. That’s okay! We are doing the best we can to protect and care for our children.
How to Know if Your Child is at Risk
So how do you know if your child is at risk? Maybe you have some concerns, but you aren’t sure if they are valid. Or maybe you just want to make sure that your child is developing normally. Either way, there are some different options, not in any particular order.
Centers for Disease Control
The CDC has a developmental check list that you can look at by your child’s age online and in a printable form. They also have an app and a quick survey to see if your child may be at risk. The survey “Learn the signs. Act early.” materials are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools. It is not a true evaluation of your child but it can get you started.
Your Child’s Pediatrician
Make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Put together all of your concerns and discuss them with your child’s doctor. They can refer you to a local early childhood screening program if they agree with your concerns.
You Child’s School
You can refer your child to your local public school special education department or infant and toddler services.
Early childhood special education programs: What can they do?
Each state and county has a screening process through the public-school district as part of a nationwide program called Child Find. Each district/county/state may set it up a little differently or even use a different title but the program is there to identify kids at risk. These screenings are geared for early childhood age children birth through age 5. The screening is free in our area and it helps to identify whether your child is on track or not. Following that screening, your child may be eligible for a developmental evaluation in one or more areas: social-emotional development, speech and language, fine and gross motor, self-help skills or pre-academics.
Alternatively, if your child passes then they may be eligible to be a peer model in a preschool classroom-depending on your district’s policy. For details about this process in your specific area, contact your local public school district’s special education department for kids ages 3-5 or your local Infant and Toddler Services program for age’s birth to three.
If my child qualifies for special education, does that label them for life?
The simple answer is yes, no and maybe. If your child receives special education services, that does not always mean they will require them for life or for the duration of their education. It really depends on your child and their specific needs. Getting your child help at an early age increases the chances that they won’t need services later on. It’s best not to be shy about asking for help, and act early for the benefit of your child! For any further questions contact your local school district or state department of education. You can also find some information online by state or by district.
From iFamily to Yours,