If your child doesn’t qualify for early intervention services, it’s not the end of the road. Learn steps you can take to advocate for your child.
1. Know what to expect.
When the evaluation team meets with you, they provide you with a description of the evaluation. It should include information about the specific test and methods used, your child’s responses, and what the scores mean. You can give your opinion about whether or not the evaluation showed your child’s strengths and difficulties, or if you think more information is needed.
2. Make sure your child’s evaluation was fair.
The evaluation needs to be conducted in the language in which your child is most proficient and sensitive to your family’s culture. The same goes for the evaluation summary: You must receive it in your or in a way you’re comfortable communicating. If you prefer, an interpreter can translate it for you. And remember that one test alone can’t decide your child’s eligibility. Most states require that children’s cognitive, physical, and communication skills be evaluated.
3. Speak up.
If there’s something you don’t understand about the evaluation, ask questions. If that’s hard for you to do, remind yourself that it’s for your child. It’s the job of the evaluation team to help you understand exactly what the evaluation means. Let the team know right away if you disagree with the results of the evaluation. You can request another evaluation, including an independent one not done by the school district.
4. If you disagree with the results, take charge.
Nobody knows your child better than you. If you disagree with results of the evaluation, you can challenge the decision by making a written request for mediation or an impartial or . The service coordinator can help you with this. Learn about what to expect at a mediation session or due process hearing. And remember to keep notes of all conversations and copies of any letters you send.
5. Even if you agree with the results you might still need help.
You can ask your service coordinator to assist you. The coordinator can connect you with supports and services in your own community. Ask about parent support and advocacy groups in your neighborhood.
6. Help at home.
There are things you can do at home to help promote your child’s development and get your child ready for school. Here’s one example for a child whose language skills are delayed: When you take your child to the park, encourage your child to touch and feel the plants or trees. Describe what they’re seeing or doing, even if they don’t respond. This can help promote curiosity, as well as social skills and pre-reading.
About the author
About the author
Annie Stuart is a freelance writer and copy editor with a specialty in education and health.
Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.