As a parent, you know your child best! If you are concerned about your child’s activity level, how he plays, talks, or expresses himself, there are a number of things and services that you can do to support your little one.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s recommended that your baby has at least 9 doctor visits in the first three years of his life. Baby wellness checkups are an important way to monitor your baby’s growth and development. If concerns come up, the pediatrician can make a referral for testing if the physician decides that it is warranted.
Baby wellness exam covers important topics such as weight, height, development, behaviors, and attachment. For more information about recommended exams, click the links below!
EARLY INTERVENTION (Ages birth to three)
If your pediatrician is not concerned, but you still are, you can ask your pediatrician to refer your child to the Early Start Program or you can contact the Early Start Department* directly and request a comprehensive developmental evaluation. Children ages birth up to three years of age receive early intervention services if they have developmental delays or specific health conditions. An evaluation determines whether or not your child is eligible for services that help children meet developmental milestones. Services can range from once a month up to 20 or more weekly hours depending on the child’s eligibility. Read more here about Early Start, Early Intervention, and eligibility criteria.
SCHOOL DISTRICT SERVICES (Ages 3-21)
If your child is 34 months and is not yet in the Early Intervention program, a referral to the school district for specialized education can be made by a parent, guardian, service provider, or teacher. The school district determines whether or not your child is eligible for services based on their comprehensive assessment. This route is called the “educational route;” all services laid out in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) contains goals and objectives regarding how to meet the needs of a child in contrived and formal environments limited to the school. Read more here on your Right to an Evaluation for Special Education Services and find a downloadable and editable letter template requesting an evaluation for your child to see if he is eligible to receive special education and related services.
MEDICAL SERVICES (any age with a medical diagnosis)
Some therapies like ABA, speech, or occupational therapy are covered under medical insurances, but require a diagnosis like autism, ADHD, apraxia, or cerebral palsy. Benefits vary from state-to-state and insurance providers, so it’s best that you understand the requirements for your insurance carrier and be persistent!
If your child is already receiving school-district services laid out in the IEP, he can still benefit from medical services outside of the school. For example, a child with autism might have a 1:1 aide to help him have positive social interactions, minimize behaviors, and help him learn successfully in the school; but he can benefit from having medical ABA services in his natural environment, and other services (e.g., speech and occupational therapy) covered through insurance.
INDEPENDENT/SUPPORTED LIVING SERVICES (ages 22 and up)
Independent Living Programs are supported through funding authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Independent Living Programs offer services to adults with identified developmental disabilities including functional skills training such as community and home safety, literacy, recreational pursuits, health and hygiene, and more. Independent Living Programs are vendored and monitored by regional centers**.
According to the Department of Developmental Services, to be eligible (in CA), a person "must have a disability that begins before the person’s 18th birthday, be expected to continue indefinitely and present a substantial disability as defined in Section 4512 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code. Eligibility is established through diagnosis and assessment performed by regional centers." For more information on what Independent Living Services Programs can offer, check out Monarch Independent Living Services’ model program located in Santa Cruz, CA.
If you are have specific questions or follow up questions about services, please contact us!
*Program names differ from state-to-state; however, all programs for children under three are referred to as “Early Intervention.”
**Regional Centers (i.e., Designated State Entity agency) are nonprofit private corporations that contract with the Department of Developmental Services in CA. The Designated State Entity agency differs from state to state, but receives, accounts for, and disburses funds for Independent Living Services.