A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Including Your Child - April 1997

Chapter 2

Help and Support Are
Important in the Early Years

Trust Your Feelings

Trust your feelings about your child. If you have a concern, get advice and help as soon as you can. The sooner your child's special needs are met, the better off your child and family will be.

The chart in this book lists signs of development for children between one month and five years of age. Remember, each child is different and may learn and develop at a different pace. However, if you notice that your child's development is very different from other children of the same age, you may want to talk with someone about your concern.

Where Should You Start?

Your doctor or public health agency can be a good place to begin. Most doctors and nurses have a lot of experience with children. They may send your child to special doctors for tests. Or they may ask you to wait a month or more to see how your child develops. Social service agencies or your local school system might also be able to help. Many states, local public school systems, and social service agencies have people to help you and your child. Try to call them as soon as you can. One place to begin is the resource guide in the back of this book. This guide lists places to find help in your state and elsewhere.

No one knows your child as well as you do. Before you meet with a doctor or teacher, make a list of the things you notice about your child that concern you. If you do not want to write things down, ask a friend to write them down for you, or use a tape recorder. The notes and lists you keep over time will help you talk about your concerns. Also, your notes will tell you and the doctor or teacher of any changes you have noticed. Your notes will help you remember little things you might forget to say during the meeting.

They may test your child and ask you questions:

Evaluation-
information collected by testing and watching a child, and by talking to a parent. This information is usually collected by doctors, teachers, and others who work with your child, and who help you have a clearer picture of your child's abilities and needs.

Information and findings about your child's needs will be made based on what you say, test findings, your child's health record, and what doctors, teachers, or others see when they watch your child play or do special tasks. Because your child is a unique person, it is important that the people testing your child get to know and understand him or her as a whole person. The result will be a good picture of your child, which is often called an evaluation.

The information you get from your child's evaluation should help you focus on what to do next. Ask questions. The more you know about your child's special needs, the better you can meet them. Once you know what your child needs, you can begin making an action plan.

Find the Support You Need

As you work with your child, you may find it helpful to meet with other parents of children with special needs. Sometimes you may feel alone, angry, and stressed in your search to find the help or care that your child needs. This is natural, but you shouldn't ignore your feelings. To help your child, you must also help yourself by getting the support you need. Ask your child's teacher or doctor, or check the resource guide in this book, for information about a support group in your area. There are many support groups for families of children with special needs. Find a group that makes you feel comfortable. Surround yourself with people you can trust.

Developmental Delays-
a delay in the development of skills and abilities which usually would have developed by a certain age.

It is important that you find help for your child as soon as you feel there is a problem. Finding help for your young child may prevent further developmental delays and may also improve the quality of your family life. Don't give up when you know you are right! You and your family's support are important to your child's development, education, and well being.

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