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Why Early Intervention Is Critical

When and Why to Have Your Child Evaluated

(page 1 of 2)

Every child is different, so first steps, words and playmate interactions will come at each child’s own pace. However, a pronounced lag — or even a parent’s, caregiver’s or teacher’s gut feeling that a milestone is delayed — might mean the child needs extra support.

Colleen Sherman, pediatric psychologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, urges parents to have their child tested if they suspect a delay. “It doesn’t cost anything for a referral or a developmental evaluation,” she says. If testing shows the child is on target, it will put the parent’s mind at ease. “But if it is something, research tells us that the benefits of early intervention are incomparable. So why wait?” asks Sherman.


Early warning signs

Benchmarks for developmental skills offer parents a helpful guide. “We encourage families to look at all five areas of development for a child: cognitive skills, speech and language skills, social and emotional development, motor skills and self-help or adaptive skills,” says Lisa Stash, supervisor of preschool special education services at the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU).

If parents have any doubts, they should contact their pediatrician first. If the doctor shares their concerns, the child should be evaluated by a local child development agency like CCIU. Evaluations are play-based, and the children don’t know they are being assessed. Often, children can be evaluated in their own preschool or daycare, with input from parents and teachers.

“We will assign the family a service coordinator who will manage the process,” Stash says. “Families are very involved.”

See page 2 for types of support

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