Child Developmental Concerns? Consider an Early Intervention Evaluation

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By Lea Uhl, teli Speech Language Pathologist

Child development during the first three years of life has an enormous impact on a child’s achievements later in life.  So how do you insure your child is developing within those guidelines?

To help parents and their child, an Early Intervention Evaluation is a service funded by the federal government and is available for all children between the ages of 0 to 3 years, at no cost to you. The evaluation is designed to assess your child’s development and if needed, provide a plan of action.

early invervention evaluations

How do I know if my child needs an EI evaluation?

To help parents, teli therapists have developed a valuable tool  entitled, Child Developmental Stages  to  provide perspective on their child’s development. While all children develop at different rates, this tool is intended to offer general guidelines but can be helpful when considering an Early Intervention Evaluation.

Your pediatrician may recommend an evaluation, or you may be concerned after reading about child development or because a concerned friend or relative suggests it, you may request an evaluation.

How do I request an Early Intervention Evaluation?

Dependent on where you live, the process involves calling a service coordinator to discuss your concerns and schedule an evaluation.

  • If you live in Washington County, you can call Washington County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services at 724-228-6832.
  • If you live in Allegheny County, you call the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers at 412-885-6000 

You can make the call with or without a pediatrician’s referral and parents are encouraged to call just to be sure!

What happens after I request an EI evaluation?

The Service Coordinator from either of the above organizations will work within the family’s schedule to schedule an appointment. At the initial intake visit, the Service Coordinator will gather birth, medical, and family history information and inquire more about the family’s specific concerns about their child. From there the coordinator will provide the parents with a choice of provider that perform the evaluation. Once the family makes the provider selection, an Early Intervention Evaluation is scheduled.  teli is a provider of evaluations in Washington County!

What is involved in an Early Intervention Evaluation?

Dependent on the family schedule an appointment will be scheduled by the service coordinator. At the time of the appointment, an Early Intervention therapist will begin the evaluation with a standardized test that identifies a child’s development progress. Don’t be surprised when the therapist brings toys to engage your child as well as inviting you to join in play. Playing is the way children learn and develop and provides the therapist a great way to evaluate a child’s development.

Throughout the evaluation, which might last anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, the therapist evaluates a child across five key dimensions:

  • Social engagement – ability to interact with others
  • Adaptive skills – ability to engage in self- care
  • Communication skills – ability to express themselves and understand spoken language
  • Motor Skills – ability to demonstrate fine and gross motor movement
  • Cognitive Skills – problem solving 

At the conclusion of the evaluation the therapist will address any questions from the parents and most importantly, provide an on the spot assessment regarding how their child is developing. Dependent on the assessment, a single therapy such as Physical Therapy to address motor skills or multiple therapies such as Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy to address feeding issues or verbal skills will be recommended. An action plan to provide your child with the resources needed will be reviewed by the therapist and the service coordinator.

How soon will my child receive early intervention services and for how long?

Timing is critical for the developmental needs of a child and by PA state law, therapy must start within two (2) weeks of the assessment. Again, the family schedule and availability will drive the therapy sessions.  The length of time a child receives services is dependent on the child’s needs and progress.

An Early Intervention Evaluation is an important step in the health of your child. Our teli therapists encourage all parents with concerns to have their child evaluated. If there are no issues, you have the reinforcement from a professional that your child is progressing, and if issues are identified, Early Intervention Services can help your child get the help they need to achieve their full potential.

For more information on Early Intervention Services call teli at 412-922-8322.

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