Early Intervention: What Happens During the Evaluation Process?

Early Intervention CarsThousands of parents each year refer their child to their local Early Intervention program due to concerns they have about developmental delays or disabilities in their child aged birth through 3 years. Previously we wrote about New York’s Early Intervention program – what it is and how to refer your child. This article will cover the next step in the process and give you insight into what you can expect during the evaluation process. We also list local resources at the end for families to reference.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that Early Intervention is private and confidential. The results of any evaluations that you have done cannot be shared without your written consent.  The evaluations will not be shared with your child’s pediatrician or your child’s future school district unless you consent to them being shared.

Second, you should understand what the purpose is of conducting evaluations. The evaluations are a way to obtain a snapshot of your child’s abilities.  They are not a definitive write up of your child’s abilities. Think of them in terms of a photograph – they freeze in time a moment so that it can be examined further.

The evaluations enable Early Intervention professionals to take a closer look at what your child can and cannot do and from there determine if your child is eligible to receive Early Intervention services. They also help professionals determine what, if any, goals should be established for your child to work towards.

How do the professionals obtain that snapshot? Once you have referred your child to Early Intervention and have met with your Service Coordinator, you will be contacted to set up an appointment for the evaluations. The evaluations can be conducted in your home, in your child’s daycare, at your local daycare or at any location that is deemed appropriate and convenient for you and your family. Ideally it will be in an environment in which your child typically spends his/her day. Try to be present for the evaluations because your insight into your child’s abilities is an integral component of the evaluation process.

The first evaluation is called a Core Evaluation and is always conducted by two people, not necessarily at the same time. One of the evaluators is always a Special Instructor. The Special Instructor will evaluate five domains of your child’s development: Cognitive, Communication, Physical (both gross motor and fine motor), Adaptive (self-help skills), and Social Emotional.  The Special Instructor is there to observe and report on your child’s overall development.

The second part of the Core Evaluation will be conducted by a specialist in the area in which you have a particular concern. So if you referred your child due to a speech concern, the evaluator will be a Speech Therapist.

What if you have more than one concern? In that case you will have a supplemental evaluation conducted in addition to the Core Evaluation. Perhaps you have a speech concern and a fine motor concern. One of the evaluators, for example the Speech Therapist, will be a member of the Core Evaluation team. The other, the Occupational Therapist, will conduct a supplemental evaluation to assess your child’s fine motor capabilities.

While the evaluators are there, be sure to ask questions and solicit feedback. Your child may not qualify for services so this may be your best opportunity to speak with a professional who specializes in treating children who have delays. Think about compiling a list of questions prior to your appointment. The evaluators can provide you with tips on assisting your child and working in strategies to address your concerns throughout your child’s typical daily routine.

A few days after the evaluations are complete you will receive a written copy of each evaluation.  Read them over carefully. You have the right to speak with a member of your child’s evaluation team to discuss the reports and review any concerns or questions that you have.

If your child is not eligible, but did have a slight delay, don’t be disheartened. This is good news! Use the strategies and suggestions given to you by the evaluator. Most evaluators will include some suggestions in their written report. Your options are to pursue therapy through your private insurance or to utilize community supports and programs such as library programs and Mommy and Me classes that could be beneficial to your child’s development. You can also have your child re-evaluated in six months by contacting your local Early Intervention office or a local Early Intervention agency (see below for a list of resources).

If your child is eligible you will schedule what’s called an Individualized Family Service Plan (or IFSP) Meeting with your Service Coordinator and a member of your child’s evaluation team.   Our next article in this series will discuss what takes place at the meeting and how services are put into place for your child.

Below you will find contact information for referring your child to your county’s Early Intervention program:

You can also call any local agency contracted to provide Early Intervention. Below are some examples:

All About Kids – located at 255 Executive Drive, Plainview NY 11803 – (516) 576-2040

Alternatives 4 Children – 4 Suffolk locations including Aquebogue, East Setauket, Melville, and Southampton – referral line (631) 331-6400

Cooper Kids Therapy Associates – located at 2 Roosevelt Ave, Syosset NY 11791 – (516) 496-4460

Infant and Toddler Interventionists – located at 100 North Park Avenue, Rockville Centre NY 11570 – (516) 678-0707

Kidz Therapy Services, PLLC – located at 49 Wireless Blvd, Hauppauge NY 11788 – (631) 382-7311

TheraCare – 1767-22 Veterans Memorial Highway, Islandia NY 11749 – (631) 851-9486

Tune in next month when we give an in-depth explanation of what to expect during the IFSP Meeting and putting services into place for your child.

By Allison Profeta

 

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