I don't know how much I've talked about this, but over the past few months, we've been carefully monitoring Charlie's motor skill development with his pediatrician since he seemed to be falling behind the curve. Through that process, I've learned a lot about Early Intervention services and thought I'd share since who knows who else could use the information.
At almost 11 months, Charlie
isn't pulling up, crawling with his belly off the floor, using a pincer
grasp, or getting himself into sitting position from laying. His old pediatrician was rather relaxed and didn't seem too concerned with, well, anything. His new
pediatrician, however, was concerned about a possible gross motor delay and referred us to Early Intervention (EI) to
What is EI? Early Intervention is a service through your county health and wellness services that provides developmental assessment and therapy to
children with special needs or developmental delays. Everything from the assessment to the
therapy is free, regardless of income, to children who are 25% delayed in
any one category or diagnosed with a disability.
There is also a
tracking program available for children who spent time in the NICU. Parents fill out surveys every 3 months that are assessed by a
therapist to make sure the preemie is on track developmentally. If they
seem to be falling behind, they can intervene quickly. I had no idea
these things existed until now!
Charlie was assessed today and
while he was up to speed in three of the five categories - cognitive,
language, and self help (eating, sleeping, dressing, etc.), he was
slightly behind (but still within normal range) in social/emotional,
and very behind physically. He was scored as having the physical
abilities and attributes of a 7 month old. They believe it is a combination of poor upper body muscle tone, general unease and cautiousness with his movements, and his gigantic head throwing off his balance. From there, an IFSP (individualized family service plan) was created. He will receive physical
therapy every other week until he is cruising/walking successfully or
we decide we're doing well on our own.
This program is not just
assistance for Charlie - its an education program for parents as well.
The PT will hold sessions at daycare (to teach his care givers how
to help him) and here at home (to teach us). Even though he wasn't
behind in the other developmental areas, we were also given lots of tips and resources on how to keep him stimulated and developing.
So, if you
have any doubts, concerns, or questions about your child's development
in any area, talk with your pediatrician, but know that you can also self
refer to EI without a doctor. The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has a great description of EI and a step by step explanation of how to begin the process of receiving assessment and services.
As our wonderful friends and family have reassuringly said, there is nothing wrong with getting him the kick in the pants he needs to get up to speed. We are just fortunate to have this service at our disposal to do so. I was so nervous for his assessment; so many worst case scenarios were running through my head. Now that we know what's going on I am completely relieved. Physical therapy? We can do this. A little more attention to intentional play? We can do that, too. One thing is for sure, this little boy has sure kept us on our toes. <3