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Programs That Seek to Provide Early Intervention For Suspected Disabilities

Programs That Seek to Provide Early Intervention For Suspected Disabilities

by Sara Whitaker

From the second our children enter our lives, it seems not a moment goes by when we’re not updating family, friends, our co-workers or even the kind woman in the grocery store, about our little one’s milestones. From first smiles to first words to first steps and everything in between — those baby book moments make it impossible to think that your precious child could ever be anything but the picture of perfection. After all — children progress at different rates, right?

It’s true – milestones are guidelines, but they are something that you and your pediatrician should keep good tabs on. There are apps, online resources and checklists with which your physician can arm you to monitor your child’s progress.

For children that are in school, daycare, pre-school or in-home care, sometimes it’s easier to identify if your child is just not quite on track. But if your child is at home with you and he or she is your only baseline, sometimes it can be hard to see if there is cause for concern. Speech and motor skill delays are the most obvious to recognize, but if at any time you feel like your child is developing slowly or you see a dramatic change in his or her behavior – trust your instincts and reach out for help.

Your school, your pediatrician or child-care provider should have information on early intervention services, like Child Find in Texas. This program locates and identifies children with suspected disabilities. As with most things, early intervention is key and necessary for laying the framework for an individual plan and services. With a little assistance early on, a child who is delayed in reaching developmental milestones may just be able to catch up with his or her peers.

In Texas, the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DARS) helps children under three years of age who have developmental delays. The program is called Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and provides services for qualifying children and their families. Services include screening and evaluations, programming, service coordination and transition services as needed. The process is very straightforward and engages everyone involved in the child’s care.

Michelle Oubre is the Educational Diagnostician for the Pleasant Grove Independent School District and works alongside children, parents and child-care providers during the evaluation and referral process. “It is so important for parents to understand that special education has changed – it looks and acts differently for each individual child. The services are specialized — made for the individual child based on the needs and support required for that child,” Oubre explains.

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Another important detail for parents to know is that referral, assessment and instruction involves a team of professionals who are dedicated to their positions and responsibilities.  “At PGISD, our team has worked together for many years,” Michelle said. “We have different functions, but one goal.” 

That goal is one that spans beyond one school district or one child. In Texas, all public schools have Child Find. Most schools have Special Education Directors, Educational Diagnosticians and/or a Licensed School Specialist in Psychology (LSSP) that can answer questions, review parent provided evaluations and determine if a referral is needed. Oubre put it best when she said, “We are educators and parents ourselves and we treat our families and children as we would treat our own. We listen, we provide answers and we assist parents when challenges may be present.”

13 Areas of Disability Categories for Evaluation

  1. Autism or an Autism Spectrum disorder
  2. Blindness
  3. Deafness
  4. Emotional disturbance
  5. Hearing impairment and auditory Impairment
  6. Intellectual Disability
  7. Multiple Disabilities
  8. Orthopedic Impairment
  9. Other Heath Impairment (ex. ADD/ADHD, Tourettes)
  10. Specific learning disability
  11. Speech/language impairment
  12. Traumatic Brain injury
  13. Vision impairment

If you are an Arkansas resident, call First Connections at (800) 643-8258. A referral to the program may be made by anyone.

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