Developing an Action Plan
Parenting A Child With Special Needs, Continued
Once your evaluation is complete, the early intervention team will work with you to create a written plan. If your child is aged 3 or younger, this plan is called an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). If your child is preschool aged or older, this plan is called an Individual Education Program (IEP). A meeting will be held with you, your service coordinator and relevant therapists to draft up the plan. The IFSP/IEP will talk about your child’s current level of development, daily routines, strengths and needs. It will identify any community resources that can support your family, assistive technology or devices that your child may need, and a service schedule (ex. physical therapy twice a week). You can view explanations of common treatment and therapy services that a child with special needs may require at: http://www.mychildwithoutlimits.org/plan/common-treatments-and-therapies/. Finally, the IFSP/IEP will also include some goals so that the team can measure if they’re helping your child and family make progress.
Your IFSP/IEP is typically reviewed annually. You can always request an additional review to update goals and progress when you think it is appropriate. When my daughter was applying to preschools, we were asked to provide a copy of her plan so appropriate accommodations could be made. I realized it had not been updated in months. The child in that IFSP had not mastered more than 10 independent steps! And now I had a walker who was doing the stairs at home daily. I contacted our service coordinator and we completely updated the plan to give a more accurate picture of my daughter.
Once your plan is in place, you will receive regular services at your home (or any environment that you request) from an EI service provider within 14 days. When my daughter was an infant, it was great to sit on the floor of our living room while a pediatric nurse gave me tips about caring for a child with complex medical needs. My daughter also formed a strong bond with an EI physical therapist who spent hours playing with her and was there to witness the first time she stood on her own two feet.
That being said, I encourage you to branch out beyond the Early Intervention program for services. There are some fantastic pediatric therapy providers in the area and nearly all take insurance. It is perfectly fine to do therapy through EI and also do private therapy at a facility. Large children’s hospitals like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Shriners Hospital for Children - Philadelphia, and Nemours duPont Hospital for Children can offer these services, but they are typically limited to a set number of sessions per year and tend to focus on rehabilitative services. Some fantastic pediatric therapy providers that can provide ongoing services for your child include: