Q&A: How Do I Get Early-Intervention Services for My Child?

Find out whether you need a referral to help a child with developmental delays.

Q. Does a doctor need to refer my child in order for us to get early-intervention services?

A. No. If you suspect he has a developmental delay, you don't need a diagnosis -- or even a doctor's referral -- to qualify for early intervention, says Patricia Wright, PhD, national director of autism services at Easter Seals. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if you contact your state's agency, a professional must evaluate your child in a timely manner -- typically within 45 days. He'll be eligible for free services if he's found to be behind in cognitive, physical, communication, social, emotional, or adaptive skills.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the April 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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