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Getting Help for Your Child… the Evaluation Process

Getting help for your child… the Evaluation Process

If your child is five years old or younger, and you are worried about his or her development, it is important that you get help as soon as possible. This is because intervention at a very young age has been demonstrated over and over again to help children’s ability to learn, function independently, and interact with other children and adults socially.

How do I know if my child has developmental delays?

You might be worried that your child is:

  • Too active, or not active enough.
  • Slow to make sounds, use words, or to understand language.
  • Throwing temper-tantrums too frequently, or past the age when you thought s/he would begin to use other ways to express his or her unhappiness or frustration.
  • Playing with toys in an unusual way.

Or, you might have other concerns. Whatever your concerns about your child may be, Birch Family Services can help.

What kind of help can I get for my child? First of all, you can arrange to have your child evaluated to determine if he or she does have delays in one or more area, and Birch Family Services can help arrange these evaluations. Evaluations for your child will be provided at your convenience and in your own language. They are at no cost to you, and can be done in your home or in other sites such as early childhood centers. Remember also that an evaluation can rule out developmental delay, and may point you to other resources to answer your questions about your child’s development.

 What happens in an evaluation? Evaluations are conducted by licensed and certified professionals such as psychologists, speech and language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists and teachers, who have experience working with very young children and their families. Evaluations for young children are not “tests”; instead the evaluators ask family members questions and play with the child to determine how the child is functioning.

When evaluators work with you during the evaluation, they will ask you many questions. For example:

  • How old is the child? Children are capable of doing things within different age ranges. For example, a newborn’s head will “bob” around on his head until he is about three months. Newborns smile at people by three months too. But we would not expect a baby to roll from front to back or to sit up until after six months. Between the ages of three and four most children use four-five word sentences, use language in imaginative play, cut along a straight line, hop five times and can wash and dry their hands with minimal help. We would not expect a four-year-old to draw a person using 10 to 12 body parts.
  • What health issues might affect the child? A child who has had several hospitalizations before six months might develop more slowly in some areas. Or, chronic health issues such as frequent ear infections might have an effect on a child’s ability to use or understand language.
  • What other things have been happening in the child’s life? Have there been a lot of changes? Has the family moved, or is there a new baby sitter? And most importantly,
  • What are your concerns about your child’s development? What do you see as his or her strengths?

Evaluators will look at the child’s development in several areas to see if the child functions like most other children do within his or her age range. These areas include movement, speech and language, social and emotional skills and cognitive skills (that is, the ability to understand, think, and problem solve).
How can Birch Family Services help? If you decide that you would like to have your child evaluated, and your child is three or four years old:

  • Call 212-616-1857 and we will arrange for your child to be evaluated either in your home or in one of our early childhood centers.