Child Find – I suspect my child might have a disability, what can I do?

“There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more”- Robert Michael Hensel was born with Spina bifida.

 

IMG_1221-a
My girls Brenda and Sandra about 3 months old.

 

When my twins Sandra and Brenda were born, they were 7 weeks premature. I was very lucky I found a group called Mother of Multiples when I moved to our new place. The group had a fantastic library and I immediately read everything I could. Most of the books I read warned about the risk of premature births and developmental delay. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CSC) also states: “Low birth weight, premature birth, multiple birth, and infections during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk for many developmental disabilities.”

My girls spent a long time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Brenda spent a month, while Sandra stayed until her projected due date. Our family had a service coordinator assigned to us from the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), from the Department of Health and Human Services that was already working with us because of our oldest daughter Adriana and her developmental disabilities. I gave Chris a call from the hospital and told her we might have to do developmental screenings on the twins. Chris was so nice with me, and told me to: “Enjoy and relax during this time in the hospital, there will be plenty of time to get services started once the girls get home.”

Developmental evaluations were done on both girls and they received Early Intervention services soon after they got home. Brenda graduated after a year and when the developmental pediatricians determined she was meeting her developmental milestones on time. Sandra however, stayed on Early Intervention until she started Special Education preschool.

What happens when a child does not meet those developmental milestones, or when a student is having a difficult time with academics? Is it possible for this child to have a developmental delay or a disability? By law, school districts must identify students who might have a disability and provide them with the special education resources to help them be successful. But how is this done? In the case of my oldest daughter, the doctors and hospital staff made the referral because she was identified as having Down syndrome, in the case of the twins, I made the referral when I called DDD.

So, who do you call in order to have your child evaluated? Every state has a program called Child Find.

Child Find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, between the ages of birth to 21, who are in need of Early Intervention or special education services.

There are a series of steps that will have to happen before any program can start.

  1. Parents or guardians must sign permission for evaluations
  2. Evaluations will be performed on all areas of suspected disability
  3. There will be a meeting to discuss the results of the evaluations and to see if the child meets the eligibility criteria for the state in which you live.
  4. If the child if found eligible to receive services there will be another meeting to discuss the yearly goals or outcomes for the child based on the evaluations.
    1. For children under the age of 3, the program designed will be an Individualized Family Service Plan or IFSP.
    2. For a child ages 3 – 21, the program designed will be a Individualized Education Program or IEP

 

Always remember that you as a parent have a voice to help your child. You are the one that know your child the best. Listen to your gut feeling and if you have questions, ask. There are resources and information and other parents that have been where you are now. I will talk more about both the IFSP and IEPs in future blogs.


 

Resources:

  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/facts.html
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – http://idea.ed.gov/
  • Child Find Programs – http://www.specialeducationguide.com/early-intervention/early-identification-how-the-child-find-program-works/
  • US Department of Health & Human Services – Regional Offices – http://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/regional-offices/index.html

Luz Adriana

My name is Luz Adriana Martinez and for the past 27 years I have been working in the field of advocacy for children with disabilities. I hold an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. I'm married to a great guy, Tito, an Army Veteran of 22 years, who supports all the crazy things I do. Being an Army wife also prepared us to be always on the move and without daddy for long periods of time. This also gave me the opportunity work and volunteer with organizations whose mission was to assist other military families. This blog results from my desire to give back to the many families that have given me and mine so much. I have had the fortune to be able to travel the world assisting military families and now that that stage of my life is over, I want to continue to share what I have learned in the hopes that I can still provide some information and resources to families who need it.

Related Posts

Early Intervention services

Early intervention is a system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities – Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) When Adriana was born we were very fortunate that one of Tito’s fellow soldiers in his unit was also the parent of a child with Down syndrome. Casey and Sandy came to […]

Read More

Thanks for the comment. Anything else we should be talking about?