Many parents often wonder if their infants and toddlers are meeting their speech and language milestones “on time”. While we know children develop at their own pace, many acquire skills around the same time. Parents who suspect their child may be experiencing difficulties communicating, or feel their child isn’t saying as many words as they should be, typically consult their pediatricians. The pediatrician will ask questions to look for any “red flags” that might be indicative of a need for further assessment or intervention.
“Red flags” could include, but are not limited to:
-decreased eye contact/engaging with people
-not responding when name is being called
-unable to follow simple commands
– unable to identify body parts and/or familiar objects
– grunting, speech that isn’t clear and/or difficult to understand, even by familiar people
-pulling a parent or pointing to objects to get needs met
– communication frustration (ex: melting down, becoming upset, tantruming when not understood)
A common course of action is to have the child’s hearing tested. A pediatrician might recommend an ENT consult. They may also refer a child for a consult with a Neurologist.
For children birth to 3 years old, your doctor may also recommend a referral for Early Intervention Services.
“How do I start the Early Intervention Process?”
As a parent, you can call and refer your child. Referrals can be made to the New Jersey Early Intervention System (NJEIS) by calling 888-653-4463.
Once a referral is made there is a window of time where a Service Coordinator is assigned to your case. Within that window a multidisciplinary evaluation will also occur. Once the results from the evaluation are reviewed, a determination is made as to whether your child is eligible for Early Intervention Services according to the eligibility criteria. An IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) meeting is planned to discuss the outcome of the evaluation and the possible need for services moving forward. The window of time for this process is 45 days. Should services be warranted, the IFSP is completed and services should begin within 30 days.
The NJEIS has a great brochure with a checklist of milestones from birth to 3 years old. It is a great resource for parents who have questions regarding their child’s development.
You can also go to the following websites for more information and to refer a child.
Intervention early on can have a huge, positive impact on your child’s growth and development for the future. Stay tuned for my article on the transition out of Early Intervention and into a Preschool Program.