Hudson Valley Parent

HVP October 2014

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20 Hudson Valley Parent ■ October 2014 By ELORA TOCCI W orrying about whether your child might have a developmental disability can be tough. Are you overreacting? Is your pediatrician concerned? Should you just wait until your child is older before you make the call? Early intervention services are designed to diagnose your child and provide the support and resourc- es necessary to help him develop age-appropriate physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and self-help skills. Talk to your doctor If you suspect your child may have a developmental disability, the fi rst step is to talk to his pediatri- cian, says Leann Coyle, the director of preschools for Abilities First in Poughkeepsie. Your pediatrician can then refer you to your county health depart- ment, and offi cials there will walk you through the process of testing your child and securing services. Look for ags While there is no concrete age at which a child should be tested, Coyle says missed developmental milestones are fl ags. If all the kids in your child's play group are rolling over, smiling, and waving and your child is not, it's a good idea to have him tested. Claudia Stedge, a program ad- ministrator at Country Acres Center in Saugerties, advises voicing your concerns immediately. "The early intervention program is just that — we provide services to address these delays so that your child is function- ing at his potential," she says. What to expect While the prospect of an evalua- tion may seem nerve-wracking for parents, it's actually a fun experience for many kids. "Most children enjoy the evalua- tion whether or not they are able to complete many of the tasks since it looks like play," says Coyle. A special education teacher and a therapist will come to your home and take your child through a series of playful tasks to determine whether or not he is progressing at a normal pace for his age group. A county representative will also come to complete an interview and talk through early intervention services. Qualifying for services The teacher who evaluates your Making the call Experts answer your questions about early intervention "Parents know their children best. They are the best advocates for their children in the educational system." — Claudia Stedge, program administrator at Country Acres Center (Continued on Page 22)

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