If your child seems to be experiencing developmental delays, or if they just aren’t hitting the early childhood milestones as you think they should, you may decide to reach out for early intervention services, which can help a child “catch up” from those delays with focused therapies. The first step to that process, however, is the early intervention evaluation—where your child will be evaluated by specialists to determine if they need such services in the first place. Here is a bit more about what you can expect before, during, and after an early intervention evaluation.
How do I get an evaluation?
An early intervention evaluation is likely to take place after two things have already happened: first, a referral has been made to the appropriate agency, and secondly, some sort of informational intake has occurred to understand the reason for the referral. In the case of South Carolina, the agency taking referrals is called BabyNet , is a system of interagency services managed through the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that is targeted toward children aged three and under who are experiencing developmental delays. You can make an appointment by going to https://msp.scdhhs.gov/babynet/site-page/refer-child-babynet or by calling 1-866-512-8881.
What should I expect at an evaluation?
Once you have been approved, an evaluation will be scheduled—most likely at your home or a place where your child is already comfortable. You will be required to give consent for the evaluation (if you haven’t already), and then two or more specialists—including one developmental therapist—to watch and interact with your child. The intent of the team is to determine if your child is meeting developmental milestones, and what areas they might need therapy or further service help in, whether that be speech, hearing, vision, gross or fine motor skills, social skills, or cognitive development.
In addition to play-based evaluations and interactions with your child, the team of specialists will also likely ask you questions about their medical history, why they were referred, and how the child acts on a daily basis.
How should I prepare for our evaluation?
Because the evaluation is so significant in determining if your child will have access to early intervention services, it is important that you come prepared. Here are a few things you can do to make your appointment go smoothly:
- Have your child’s medical history handy, including appointments and immunization record
- Provide a journal (if available) of concerning issues or instances your child has experienced
- Create a list of questions that you would like to ask the team, including those of expertise, treatment schedules, included therapists or specialists, or any financial needs.
What information will I get back, and when?
Once the evaluation has been completed, a recommendation will be completed and you may be given access to BabyNet services. This may take any time between a few days to a few weeks to turn around. However, if your child is eligible, you will be provided information to connect with an early interventionist, who will help establish an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and further connect you with and specialists or therapists that are a part of that plan.
Above & Beyond is a South Carolina-based provider of early intervention programs and services, including Family Training and Service Coordination. If you have questions about developmental delays or early intervention programs and services available to your child, please reach out to us. We are always happy to help.