Assessment for Developmental Delays

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Consequences of having a Developmental Assessment?

Jan 2008

I'm considering having my three year old developmentally assessed. She has some odd behaviors (but aren't all three year olds unusual!). My question - what are the downsides to having her assessed? Would I ever have to reveal the results on any insurance applications or school applications? Thanks for your input

If you can pay out-of-pocket then you won't have an insurance record/trail following you. Ironic, since most insurance doesn't cover ''developmental'' issues anyway, and yet they have denied us coverage DUE to that. But I digress. Overall, it's been helpful for us to have as much assessment and intervention as we can get but we are definitely careful about how much information we divulge depending on context. Family of Dev. Delayed Child

I strongly recommend having an evaluation if you are concerned about your child's behaviors. Early intervention is critical for many disorders. If you have a private evaluation (and pay for it yourself) you can keep it absolutely confidential. You can also ask your public school district for an assessment, and those records will be kept confidential, but you do lose some control over them because professionals can see the report. I can think of more advantages than disadvantages to having an assessment. (Insurance companies will pay for some treatments once you have a diagnosis. Also, children qualify for services from the Regional Center if they have certain diagnoses.) However, the quality of the assessment depends on who does it, of course. Good luck! Been there

Hey, You asked for downsides and, IMHO, there are no downsides. Any insight into who your child is can only help you as a parent. tell you about our experience. Our child has always been higher on the difficulty scale. Very bright, but also socially delayed, impulsive, and strong-willed. Anyway, I asked my ped to give me a referral to a developmental pediatrician. He assessed my boy and basically told us that there was no diagnosis - that there is a norm in terms of behavior and our son was on one side of the curve. Delayed based on the norm, but not diagnosable.

So, by having the assessment, it gave us peace of mind. He's still a challenge to parent, but at least we aren't worried and he has outgrown many of the behaviors that caused us to worry in the first place. We're in the midst of applying for private schools and one of the applications asked about whether our child had ever been diagnosed or is seeing a beh/psych specialist. From the tour of the school though, I gathered it had more to do with making sure they knew as much as possible so they could be supportive rather than an exclusionary question. )n the plus side, if you do get your daughter assessed and diagnosed, she's eligible starting at three for services through the school district. I would say do the assessment. It can only help. Anon

If you are concerned about your child's development you should definitely have an assessment. You have no obligation to share the findings with any one. I had concerns about my son's development from age 2 onward but people kept reassuring me that he was fine so I did not have him assessed. When I finally did (age 3.5yrs) it turned out that he was delayed in all areas of development and I still wish I had addressed this matter earlier. Best Wishes Laura

If you're concerned about your child, there's no down-side to getting an assessment as a privately paying client. That way, the assessment is yours to share (or not) with whomever you choose. Clinical Psychologist & Mom

First of all, wherever you go for an assessment, there will most likely be a long waiting list during which time they will have you fill out a developmental questionnaire to determine whether it is even worth having you come in. If there are no red flags, they won't even see you. If someone does agree to see your child, the outcome will either be a determination that the child is developing typically/does not need intervention, in which case it would not make a difference to the insurance companies or school district; or the that child is not developing typically/does need intervention in which case you will probably want to get the school district and insurance company involved anyway.

If your instincts are telling you there is something off, I would trust that and get the assessment. If she does need intervention, the sooner the better . Wish I had had my child assessed sooner

Getting an assessment for 4-y-o with obvious language delay

Feb 2008

hello everyone, I'm in a bit of a quandary...

My almost 4-year-old boy is bright, but has an obvious language delay, & a subtle ''something'' that gets in the way of him socializing with his peers. It may be a social/emotional delay, or maybe is situational (even less verbal with peers/in public), or maybe is just related to the language delay. I have an assessment lined up with the Berkeley school district in March, & my questions are these:

1) has anyone had an assessment done through the school district? How in depth/satisfactory was it?

2)his caregiver & our pediatrician both recommended getting an assessment done by a developmental pediatrician, because of the subtlety of his behavioral ''issues''. Does anyone have any recommendations? Does it have to cost an arm & a leg?

Our resources are limited, but we think that early & accurate diagnosis (of any issues, or the lack thereof) would be helpful, even important. signed, Sittin' on the Proactive/Neurotic Seesaw

It is very scary to deal with the fact that your child might have special challenges. But if you see a developmental pediatrician - you are more likely to get the whole picture of what is going on with him - and figure out best how to help him. The assessments by the school district are not done for the purpose of determining a medical diagnosis and are not done by medical experts. They are short - a couple hours. We saw a dev pediatrician. They conducted four separate observations of our son with minimal testing and wrote a lengthy report which helped us to determine what services he truly needed. You can go thru children's hospital if costs are a barrier. Been there

Hi - I totally sympathize with what you are going through. I have just gone through it with BOTH my boys (4 & 6). It has been a frustrating, scary, overwhelming process because I had no clue what I was doing and had to rely on the expertise of others.

I will say that, if at all possible, have your child evaluated by the BUSD as well as a developmental pediatrician. My older son's assessment was thankfully covered by insurance (although I had to fight). If we would have paid for it, it was about $5k. The younger son has only gone through BUSD (free).

I would say the school system seemed very capable and knowledgeable for my younger son (easier to diagnose). My older son would have received an incorrect diagnosis by BUSD had it not been for the medical evaluation. His behaviors are a bit more in the 'gray area'.

The school system has been, in my experience, very willing to offer support/services to my sons at no cost to us (thanks to No Child Left Behind). My younger son is now in a preschool with a speech therapist and a 3:5 student:teacher ratio. He is getting the help he needs to succeed. My older son is in kindergarten and I'm working very closely with his teacher, the occupational therapist and school administration to make sure gets what he needs as well.

You do need to be your child's advocate, do lots of research on your own and ask lots of questions. BUSD has been willing to meet with me whenever I have questions or need to check in on my sons' progress. I've been very happy with how they have handled the situation and provided necessary support. Julie

We did the BUSD assessment and it was a fine, free start but much lacking compared to the independent professionals we saw for assessments afterwards. I definitely recommend you do the BUSD one but don't delay in learning scheduling with the Dev Ped. Dr Berman, who we really like, has a huge wait to get in. There are qualified psychologists around too. Learn to maximize his rights under your medical benefits so it won't cost as much. did it

This sounds similar to the situation with with son, who had severe auditory processing deficit, and though very bright, couldn't make much sense out of language (or generate many words). His lack of being able to communicate compounded his social problems (some people thought he had ADD). Don't rely on just the school district; please contact Dr. Brad Berman at 925-279-3480. He's at 3021 Citrus Circle in Walnut Creek, and arrange to have your son assessed. Having an IEP done by the school district can help, and your child is eligible for services from the district even while in pre-school, but you have to FIGHT AGGRESSIVELY for every service every year, and independent assessments help. The district will typically give you 2-30 minute speech therapy sessions a week, and maybe one 30-minute occupational therapy session, with some special ed resource work thrown in. It really isn't enough, even if you're doing a lot of support work at home with your child (and you need to do a lot of work with your son at home as well). You might also want to talk with speech therapist Deborah McCloskey in Berkeley on 9th Street. Her phone number is 510- 704-9360. Good luck. Early intervention , and LOTS of it, can make a huge difference! Your medical insurance, if you have it, may cover some level of service, and there may be resources which will provide you with services on a sliding scale. We put 5 years of intensive work in with my son, but he is an honor roll student heading for college, and has been acting semi- professionally for 5 years, so his language problems have disappeared completely. Been there

Our 5 year old son also had some ''off'' social and other behaviors. Nothing too serious but just some behaviors that sometimes interfered with his daily life. We finally ended up talking to a therapist who told us he has sensory processing difficulties. Now that I know more about this,it totally fits my child. Most of the time children with these difficulties see occupational therapists. School districts do not usually look for this or treat it. I would encourage you to read the book ''The Out of Sync Child'' and pursue an occupational therapy evaluation to see if this possibly affects your son. My son is doing really well now and I attribute it to his OT therapy and our new awareness. a Mom

The district will assess your child to the depth that THEY need to determine if he ''qualifies for services'' through the district. This is a good thing, as they may have a preschool option that would help. (I'm in Oakland, not Berkeley, and would recommend Tilden Preschool if you were in our district - perhaps you can get a transfer for preschool?)

That said, I would also recommend that you ALSO spend the $ to get an independent assessment, to help you decide what additional work YOU would do with your child. We were in exactly the same place you are at exactly the same age, 8 years ago. We spent the $ up front to load on services while he was young, and it's really made a huge difference.

We work with Dr. Brad Berman in Walnut Creek. I'm sure the waiting list is long, so you may want to look around for other options. I'm happy to suggest offline if you would like to contact me directly through the moderator. - Language-delay mom

Delayed 3-year-old barely talks, doesn't run

Oct 2004

I'm wondering about how to best help a 3 year old girl whom i know who seems very delayed. She barely talks, mostly communicating by grunting, does not run and seems generally very slow developmentally. Her parents are good to her, but are very young and have little money or support. They live in San Francisco and I believe have medi-cal. I'd like to help with getting her an assessment and any special help that she could benifit from but am unsure how or where to start. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

HI! So glad you're concerned enough to help. Once a child has reached the age of 3, they are assessed through their local school district. If she's under 3, then the local regional center will conduct an assessment. Either way, it's free. Simply contact the school district, explain the concerns and they'll ''eventually'' schedule an assessment. If this was a family with more financial resources, I'd encourage an independent evaluation from an outside psychologist simply to expedite the process. But, given that is not the case, the local school district is the way to go. Also, definitely have them raise concerns with their doctor, especially if there's any chance she's deaf The doctor will help make referrals, but you have to be persistent. Contact me any time if you have any questions. Best of luck. Diane

Have the parents call the San Francisco Co Special Education Department 415-242-2670. Ask for a preschool speech and language assessment appointment to see if the child is eligible for free early intervention services through the public school system. anon

Regional Centers are located around the state to help people and families of people with developmental disabilities or delays. Young children, such as the one you mentioned, can be screened and they and their families can receive early interventions. The website for the one that serves SF is: denise

There is a federally sponsored program available in all states that's called Early Intervention (in CA it's called ''Early Start''). It's designed to help parents get help for their children 0-3 years who may have developmental delays or problems. If the child qualifies (shows I think 33% delay in one area or 25% delay in 2 developmental areas) they can be accepted into the program. They assess the child and offer services to help if a diagnosis is made. And the services are free. Information is available through the Department of Developmental Services -- or at Hope this helps. anon

The State, through local school districts offers free speech and language evals/therapy. I'm in Oakland and I have a child with some articulation problems; I just called the school district and set up an appointment for an evaluation. Again, FREE. Hard to beat. The kid has to be 3-5 y.o. I think. So call the SF School District. Hilary

The local school district is legally obligated to assess her 3-year-old to see if she gets free services--including schooling and therapy--from them. I believe San Francisco Unified's special education department is at 415/355-7735. Oakland special ed parent

Ok, we just learned about this because my 3 yr old has a speech delay (verbal dysfluency). It takes a lot of work...more than just love. And it looks like you have her best interest at heart! First, they need to take her to thier pediatrician to get a referral for an assessment. The pediatrician will direct them to a therapist. The first assessment is free. It will determine how little and/or how much she understands/knows. They use pictures and games and simple tests. (Make sure they take her way before her nap or after. We took my daughter right before her nap and it's a whole hour of tests and she got tired and bored and edgy.)

There are breaks in between each test so, the child has a chance to regroup and play a little. What the test determines is where she should be as far as her age group and what the average child that age is expected to know/understand. Then they will recommend an amount of days per week to come in and start therapy based on how much 'work' she needs. This website really helped: She sends info via email that's really helpful. Nothing to buy just creative advice.

Now that we've gone though the process of how to get therapy, here's the part where they have payment options. If Medi-Cal covers it, then they're all set. If not, they can go through the school district (which is what were going to do). The school district provides FREE therapy to children who will be attending public school for kindergarten, etc. Just call the Unified School District and they will direct your call to the proper authority. Everyone is very nice and non-judgemental. They will send packets of info and forms and then the process will be well on it's way. And hopefully, their little girl will be too! Hope this info helps! ~Alena

I have a 3 yr old who is also delayed. I am very surprised that doctor's have not caught on this little girls delays, there is alot of help out here. you can refer her to Support for Families in San Francisco, they are out in the misssion district on 22nd. Also there is Golden Gate Regional Center in Howard St. If I can be of any assistance e-mail me and i'll give you my info. you are right she should be getting assesed and right now is the time to have her start in special day classes in the mornings. it's very important. good luck claudia

I have two kids with disabilities who have been in special education in the Oakland public schools. Their delays were identified in time to get them into special education before kindergarten (one started at about 3 and one at 4). That was good in that it was a free and stimulating pre-school environment and therapists were assigned to help them with speech and motor skills. The only kids in public schools pre-K (to my knowledge) are those at risk either for economic reasons or delay. The first step is to have a parent call their school district and request an assessment. That is paid for by the school district and a child is entitled to services at age 3. Mary in Oakland

Concerned about 11-month-old's physical delays

Nov 2001

I am concerned that my 11 month old baby is quite behind physically in his development. It seems that there are many things he should be able to do by now that he isn't doing. I am wondering if anyone has a recommendation for a specialist whom I can take him to for an evaluation.

I recommend Veronica Daly, M.D., at Children's Hospital Oakland. Dr. Daly spent a generous amount of time with our son and was able to direct us to appropriate (and wonderfully helpful) therapists, educational programs, and funding sources. She even called our home a few times to check on his progress, and we go back for follow-up appointments every so often. It was a relief to find such a caring and knowledgable specialist. Sara

For comprehensive testing, Children's Hospital's Child Development Center (Dr. Veronica Daley is who we saw) or Regional Center of the East Bay (this can take awhile). At this age, perhaps a Physical Therapy Evaluation at Herrick Hospital to get started if the above are taking too long. Drop by the Family Resource Network (next to Bananas) for other referrals. Good luck. Tracy