It begins at birth. Parents are excited and happy to share what is supposed to be one of the most uplifting experiences in a person’s life. In most cases, the complex process of an infant’s development in the womb and post-birth follows a pretty typical sequence of events with respect to motor, verbal, cognitive, and social emotional development. As parents, we generally know when and what to expect in regard to our child’s development.
But sometimes, at first perhaps imperceptible to the eye or conscious mind, a child’s development deviates in one or more areas. Something begins to bother us as a parent and we think, “Something is off.” A message that was not conscious becomes increasingly clearer. As our child ages, their development continues to deviate from what we expect. We begin to hear reports about their development that, at first, might be excused: “Oh, he is only one or two maybe even three years of age….” But, increasingly, we realize that there is a problem.
As we become aware of our child’s difficulty, we may also come to recognize that we are unsure how to help them. In fact, we have been trying anything and everything to get them to respond and not act out with little or no success.
Sooner or later, often from the urging of family and friends telling us to “wake up,” we realize we have to do something. That’s when the process begins: We start the seemingly endless string of evaluations privately or through the state offices of Early Intervention, Committee on Pre-school Education, CPSE, or in the Committee on Special Education if the problem goes unaddressed that long. The evaluations continue on by examining our child’s social history, speech, educational progress, occupational and/or physical therapy needs and last, but not least, a psychological assessment. Accompanying these are a cadre of ancillary evaluations to pinpoint learning difficulties and/or neurological or psychiatric disorders. Once the evaluations are completed, services are provided in the least restrictive environment.
Parents, though following the lead of the clinicians, may still observe behavioral difficulties with their child. This may cause frustration as parents try to fully understand the interventions and the actions of their child. Moreover, there are often times that what would have been typical behavioral problems become magnified and more serious either at home, school, or both.