Screening & Evaluation
Parenting A Child With Special Needs, Continued
The first step in the EI process is an initial screening. This is a quick phone call that helps determine what kind of evaluation your child will undergo so that the team can get a good understanding of your child’s needs. You will be asked demographic information about your child and family, as well as some basic questions about your child’s development. This is also where you can share your child’s diagnosis if you already have this information from your pediatrician.
Call the CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288 to get in touch with your local Early Intervention program and start the screening process. Learn more at www.connectpa.net.
Once your screening is complete, you will be contacted by an EI service coordinator. The coordinator will go over the information you provided during your screening and have a deeper conversation with you about your concerns. Your service coordinator will then schedule a multidisciplinary evaluation involving several team members. Your team may consist of a child psychologist, speech, physical or occupational therapists, and/or nurses. You will be asked to sign some consent forms after the coordinator explains the evaluation process in great detail to you. It is best to schedule your evaluation for a time when your child is well-rested and alert (ex. late morning). The evaluation can go for a couple of hours. You are welcome to take breaks and have snacks.
The evaluation will look at all major areas of child development – cognitive, physical, communication, social-emotion and adaptive development. Your little one will think they are having a play date or a really fun conversation with friendly adult. While your child is engaged in a variety of activities, an EI staff member will be chatting with you - what is your child’s day like? What does your child enjoy most? What things are most challenging for them? As a parent, you will also be asked about your own strengths and any challenges you have identified caring for your child. Remember that the purpose of the evaluation is to get a full picture of the child’s life, identify strengths and needs, and then determine the best menu of services that can best support your whole family.