Evaluation and Therapy for Children Age Birth to Three
If your child is under age three, you can get a free evaluation through your state's early intervention (EI) program. These programs are federally funded and go by many different names, such as "Birth to Three" or "Child Find." You'll find a full listing of contact numbers for EI programs by state on our Web site at www.sensorysmarts.com.
One of the greatest benefits of getting your child evaluated through early intervention is that the evaluation may be multidisciplinary. An occupational therapist (OT) is usually the primary professional for treating SI dysfunction. However, even if you're concerned only about sensory issues, your child may also be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist, special educator, and often, a physical therapist, in addition to an OT. This is because it is very common for children to have developmental delays in addition to sensory issues.
If your child qualifies for services, EI will provide them for free or for low cost, depending on your state's program. Usually, the therapy sessions will take place in your home, or less often, in an early intervention center-based program. While she is in EI, your child's therapy will focus on everyday life activities, such as playing, doing puzzles, running and jumping, holding a crayon and coloring, dressing, and eating. The document outlining therapy goals and services (which you will be a part of creating) is called an IFSP, or Individualized Family Service Plan. When your child "ages out" of EI around her third birthday, your service coordinator will help you transition to services supplied by your local school system or in your community. Sometimes these transitions are virtually seamless, particularly if the child has been getting services at a preschool that is not only an EI provider but has a contract with the school system to serve children aged three to five.