Early Years (0-5)
“Who is rich? He/she who rejoices in his/her portion.”
Pirkei Avot - Ethics of the Fathers
The early years of your child’s life are an exciting time full of dreams and challenges. However, concerns about a child’s development or suspicion of a disability diagnosis could overshadow the joy of a new child. At times, these thoughts and potential challenges may seem overwhelming. It is critical that parents understand: a delay or disability does not define your child; instead, it may explain his/her behavior. It may be worrisome or hard to hear, but, with the right diagnosis, you can begin to get the information you need. With the right therapy, technology and support, you can greatly improve your life, your family’s life and the life of your child.
The first five years of a child’s life are among the most important. Giving your child the appropriate services can shape your child’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning. With love and proper nurturing, your child will develop a sense of trust and security and grow into a confident adult.
What do you do when you realize your child might need assistance?
Step 1: Take notes and record videos.
Watch your child and document his/her behavior. Videos can be helpful when you go to see a doctor.
Here is a comprehensive list of developmental milestones from birth – 5 years.
Step 2: Talk to your pediatrician.
Keep your child's pediatrician informed. Explain your concerns and seek their insight on recommended tests and reports. If needed, you should consult with a developmental pediatrician as well.
Step 3: Get information and support.
Contact local support agencies for children’s support programs and personal support.
Step 4: Develop your network.
Meet with the recommended professionals who can assess your child and determine next steps. Every specialist is different. Some will examine, order extensive tests and present a diagnosis and prognosis, which can become costly. Others will send you to another specialist. Keep a record of what you are learning.
Step 5: Keep seeking answers.
A diagnosis is, in many ways, the start of the story. Perhaps it will develop and grow with your child, or perhaps it will prove inaccurate. Seek a diagnosis early, but don't stop seeking information.
Source: Special Needs Kids Information
Please note: while this website originated in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area, we found its information useful for all!
Jewish South Jersey has a great network of supports for children birth to three years of age of varying different abilities. By contacting the New Jersey Early Intervention System (NJEIS) by calling 888-653-4463, you can receive resources and referrals to help you on your journey. This system operates under the Department of Health. To request or discuss a no cost evaluation, please contact NJEIS at 888-653-4463. This number will connect you to a regional system point of entry (SPOE) for the NJEIS. This triggers New Jersey's statewide system of services for infants and toddlers found eligible (eligibility criteria are outlined in Early Identification), birth to age three and their families.
For children birth to age 21 with special health care needs, referrals can be made through 21 county Special Child Health Case Management Units. Additional information is available online.