Where can I get help for my infant child with developmental delays (0-3 years old)?
Early Intervention services are available in Illinois for children from birth through age three, who demonstrate a developmental delay or are diagnosed with a developmental disability. These services are accessed through Child & Family Connections (CFC) agencies located throughout the state to connect children to Service Providers. These providers include physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and many other professionals to help the child develop in delay areas.
Click here to view a list of the Child & Family Connections agencies in Illinois.
Your child's pediatrician may be the first to suspect a developmental delay. Physicians should refer parents to early intervention services as soon as possible. Remember, as always, if you are not satisfied with your doctors diagnosis; seek a second opinion. Sometimes, a referral to a specialist is needed to identify a disability.
Here are some other medical professionals who can diagnose and/or confirm a developmental disability and make recommendations for treatment.
- Ear, Nose & Throat Doctors - diagnose and treat hearing problems.
- Pediatric Ophthalmologists - diagnose and treat vision problems.
- Cardiologists - diagnose and treat heart irregularities.
- Neurologists - diagnose and treat processing problems and sensory integration issues.
Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are important components of managing certain developmental disabilities. Children may benefit from a combination of several types of therapies to address specific needs. The descriptions below will help you to understand the goals of each therapy.
- Physical Therapy - Physical therapy can help to improve deficiencies in coordination and motor skills.
- Speech/Language Therapy - Speech therapy can help improve language skills to help children with disabilities communicate more effectively.
- Occupational Therapy - Occupational therapy addresses fine motor skills. Occupational therapy may also help children learn to process information from the five senses (sight, sound, hearing, touch, and smell) in more manageable ways. This is especially helpful with children who experience sensory integration problems.
- Behavior Therapy - Behavioral training and behavior management use positive reinforcement to reduce behavior problems and promote adaptation skills. The childs abilities, behavior and environment need to be taken into account when planning behavior management and all adults/caregivers need to be trained in the same behavior management techniques. Consistent use of behavioral interventions across all social contexts is most effective when working with children who have behavior problems due to developmental disabilities.
Citations 1. Committee on Children with Disabilities, American Academy of Pediatrics (2001). Technical report: The pediatrician's role in the diagnosis and management of autistic spectrum disorder in children. Pediatrics, 107(5): 118.
Many support groups exist to help parents cope with the challenges they face in raising a child with disabilities. Sometimes sharing your story with another parent who is dealing with the same issues can help. Often, support groups are formed around a particular disability. National Association for Down Syndrome and the Autism Society are two such groups. However, parents of children without these particular diagnoses can still find support among the parents in these support groups. There are sibling support groups for the brothers and sisters of people with disabilities, called SibShops. SibShops help siblings cope with the issues they face as a sibling of someone with a disability. Click here to view a list of Illinois Sibshops.
Some people find help, support and empowerment through advocacy organizations. Many advocacy organizations help their members learn how to influence the system of services and improve the care available for people with disabilities. One such program for parents of children receiving EI services is EIPALS - Early Intervention Parents as Leaders.
Parents can become more involved by becoming an EIPAL (Early Intervention Parents As Leaders). This program is a project of UCP of Greater Chicago, located at 7550 W. 183rd St., Tinley Park, IL 60477. The project is a partnership between UCP of Greater Chicago and the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. For more information contact EIPALS at 708-444-8460 or toll free at 866-509-3867. Additional information is also available at: www.eipals.org.
For more information contact the Illinois Department of Early Intervention at 217-782-1981.
Information provided by the Illinois Life Span Project