We had Sophie evaluated by Early Intervention and by our county/state pre-k program. In the past few weeks I have talked with friends about the programs and the procedures. I thought I would share some details with you about EI and the procedures most states follow. I will do the same for pre-k special education services next week. If I mis-inform PLEASE leave a comment and I will make a correction. My hope is to give new parents and parents with children from China the info and tools (secret code:) to navigate EI services.
The program details:
Early Intervention Programs serve children from birth to three years old. They offer educational, speech/language, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Screening and services are free. In some states (NC being one) if you makes lots of $$$$ you may have to pay a small fee. If your child is in daycare service providers will go to your childs daycare, if you are at home with your child they may come to your home or meet at their therapy offices. This might be different depending on your state. In the county that we live in they will go to daycares or see a child in their home. My sister also shared with me that in order to qualify for EI services your child will need to have deficits in a least two different areas (social/edcuational, speech/langauge, OT, or PT). After returning home from China and once everyone is settled in, I believe that it would be worth the time to have a screening completed.
Here is a link to a listing of contact info by state for Early Intervention Services
You do not need your doctor or teacher to refer you to EI. If you have a concern about your childs development you can request a screening/eval.
What usually happens in EI is that a few therapist ( an OT, SLP and an educational consultant) may come out to your home after you complete a form regarding developmental history, any concerns etc. When EI came to our home I was concerned about how sophie was chewing her food, more specifically that she was still "sucking" her food instead of chewing. An OT observed her eating french fries. An educational consultant and SLP asked her questions using visual props. They were at our house for about two hours. Part of the time was spent asking me questions, the other part was working and observing Sophie. At that time Sophie did not qualify for services. We did recieve a report scoring her achievment in each area. If she had qualified a more indepth evaluation would have been conducted in the areas identified in the "screening". After evaluations are completed they are reviewed with the parents and therapist. Next a IFSP ( idividualized family service plan) is developed. The IFSP will state your childs present level and the goal of the IFSP and what the therapist/family will do to reach those goals. IFSP are valid for one year, but can be revisited and changed as the child progresses. A parent may call a meeting to address the IFSP at any time during the life of the IFSP.
The best advice I can give any parent navigating services covered under IDEA is that you are your childs advocate. Start out nice. You can get more with sugar than with vinegar.....but if that doesn't work....You might have to get a little bitchy!
***Susan let me know if I left something out....or screwed something up.