Exceptional Lives Team
July 13, 2021

Kitchen Conversations: Preparing for your child’s transition into school

What are the most important things to do before your child with disabilities or special needs starts school? Joyce Ridgeway of EarlySteps breaks it down.


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[Julie McKinney speaking] I want to welcome Joyce Ridgeway, with pleasure. I worked with Joyce for years and I’m so happy that she is here to talk to you. She is a compassionate and knowledgeable voice, and I’m sure that you will get a lot out of this. Joyce is the former regional coordinator at EarlySteps, Regions 1 and 10, and she’s now the Early Intervention Specialist at Lighthouse Louisiana. I wanna welcome Sarah Barnes, her supervisor and colleague at Lighthouse. Welcome and thank you for sharing some of Joyce’s time with us to do the webinar today.

Joyce has worked with children, youth and families for over 25 years in a host of community organizations and programs. She’s a public servant whose goal is to ensure that families understand that we care about them and work to identify and address their priorities to support their child’s development. So, welcome Joyce, thank you so much for being here and I’m gonna turn it over to you now.

[Joyce Ridgeway speaking] Thank you so much for having me, all of you who are sharing with us on today. But I wanna say a special thank you to Julie McKinney and the Exceptional Lives team for inviting me on today. Julie gave us some funny instructions to introduce ourselves. So I am a black female in my 60s. I have multiple different hair colors, it just depends on how I’m feeling that morning when I wake up. But I am…my most accredited thing is that I am a social servant. I’m here to help in any capacity that I can. And so on today, I have been entrusted with the assignment to discuss transitioning with you.

And the first thing I want to tell you is that your child understands transition. They transitioned initially from living inside of your house, your body, and then out into this world and then leaving the hospital and going home with you was another transition. And then from there, they have experienced only knowing you to knowing you and your entire family. And then branching out to others when they began daycare for those who went to daycare or childcare or went to even another caregiver while you worked or whatever. All of those are transitions, and so your child knows and understands transitions. So, I want you to be confident in understanding that your child does understand transitioning, okay?

So we’re gonna talk today about the process for transitioning for your child services for children with disabilities, what happens at age three, basic timeline, what to do to prepare and when, and then racism and equity, advocating for your child, okay? So, our next slide… I wanna just say quickly before we go to our next slide, that we put in racism and equity because there is a lot going on now that we need to address. And so we understand that racism actually stems from the belief in superiority for a particular race. But, I want you to also understand that inequity happens across the board, not just in racial settings, but a lot of times children who have special needs are treated inequitably. And so knowing that, going in with that information and that understanding, I want you to be sensitive to always advocate for your child. Keep an informed eye always for your child, pay attention to what goes on and show up as often as you can because when you do, you’re teaching other people how you want your child to be treated and cared for. So I want you to understand that these different basics that happen in life, racism and equity, it happens across the board. And so I want you to be your child’s chief advocate at all times. Okay? All right, so…

A little background for our next slide, a little background IDEA and your child’s rights. Individuals, IDEA is Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And it is a law that provides for your child with special needs to have the best possible education that can be provided for them. Okay. All children have a right to free public education that meets their needs. And so that means that you have a right to request what your child needs in any educational setting. Children with disabilities get services to help them succeed in school. So, that means that whatever is needed, whatever your child needs, you request it. Don’t let them tell you that they can’t get it because they don’t have it there. Nope, you let them know that IDEA, which is the law that provides for your child’s education, requires them to provide what your child needs.

Ages zero to three, if your child is developmentally disabled or has an illness that will cause them to be delayed, then they are eligible for EarlySteps services, provided they meet the criteria in two different areas. So, they would have to be 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two areas to qualify for EarlySteps. But, if they don’t qualify for EarlySteps, then you will still get what they need for their developmental support, okay? Don’t give up just because they don’t qualify for EarlySteps, because there are other areas and under Exceptional Lives, you will find the information for resources that you need to help your child to get what they need as it relates to developmental services. So, by age, between ages three and 22, the special education department or the Human Services Districts in your region will provide whatever your child needs as it relates to services for them. The Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities is who you will contact in order to get those services.

There are special…we can go to the next slide. There are special services that are available for your child. The types of services called related services in the IEP, which is the Individualized Education Plan. Every child that has special needs will get an individualized education plan done for them through the school system of your choice. And those therapies that they will cover will be speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavioral therapy which is done through a psychologist that works specifically with children. And these services, we’re not gonna go into details about them because the webinar on June 9th will describe the different therapies for you. So, just remember that those services are available for your child.

So, our next slide. What happens… Oh-oh. Timeline, ages zero to three. So, you’re going to identify the disability and find support. So, if you think that your child has a disability or is delayed, and I wanna stick a peg right there and say this to you. In my experience with EarlySteps, I’ve found that most of the children came in at a year and a half, which only gave us half of the time to work with them. If your child is three months and not attempting to sit up, you should look into it. Don’t wait. Some parents say, well, they’re just slow starters. Slow starters mean delay. And so, call EarlySteps, call children’s hospital, have an assessment, have an evaluation done. The evaluation is free and you can find out if your child is delayed early and get the services that they need started so that they can get caught up. The purpose of early intervention is to help them to get caught up ahead of time, so they fit into their own little lives along with the other children, the way they are supposed to. So you wanna get that done quickly. If your child is six months and they’re not trying to pull up or it’s between six and nine months, not trying to pull up and cruise around the furniture, guess what? You need to get them evaluated. Like I said, the evaluation is free. So you get developmental screenings and assessments, apply to EarlySteps, they’ll do the evaluation free of charge. And you can find out if your child needs additional services. Your child is not gonna be labeled, they’re gonna be supported. So you’re gonna connect them to the support. You’ll meet other families, there’s Families Helping Families, there’s the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. And so, all of these areas are there to provide what you need for your special needs child. All right.

And one thing… Another thing that I wanted to remember to tell you about is that always, always, always, no matter what happens, you’re going to advocate for your child. Empower yourself, learn everything that you can about early intervention services. There is a book on IEP, there’s a book on IDEA and there’s a book called “Wrightslaw“, which will give you the information that you need to be able to support your child. Be their advocate. I want you to be the chief advocate for your child. Wherever they go you go. Whatever’s going on you ask questions. Don’t think that you can ask a question too many times or that there’s a question you shouldn’t ask. As it relates to your child, you wanna know everything that happened all the time.

So, what will happen at which ages? And we’re gonna go through the timeline. So the school district now in charge of services, services which are, start on the third birthday. But, transition begins at two years and two months. So at two years and two months, you’re gonna make sure that the school system in your school and your district has what they need, the paperwork, any assessments that you could have, medical information, and most importantly, a hearing and a vision screening. So, if you’re taking your child to an audiologist, an audiologist can also do a vision screening. So you can make one appointment count. If you get that done at two years and two months, it’s good for a year. So you can use it when you go to the school system, and that will cut down on the number of meetings that they have to have with your child, with you and your child. And so you bring those screenings with you, and they can go right into the eval meeting and then schedule your IEP meeting for your child. So, get with your audiologist, get with your pediatrician, have those screenings completed at two years and two months or at two years old, and you can use them for your child’s meeting with the school system. They’re gonna meet with your child between 2.6 and 2.9. So you have those things done at two or at 2.2, get all of the documentation that you can and bring it with you when you contact the school system so that they have all of the information that they need upfront to know what is going on with your child. You are their chief advocate. I’m gonna keep saying that because I want you to be empowered and I want you to be… When you are empowered, you’re gonna empower your child. Every mother, every father, get involved, provide the support that your child needs when they need it. You’re gonna set the pace, you’re gonna set the agenda for your child. So, when your child needs something, they may not identify it, but you’re with your child 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’re gonna see and know things about your child that other people may not know. You present it to them, don’t sit on any information because this is your child and the purpose of this is to get them to where they need to be moving forward. Between–

[Jackie Snyder speaking] Ms. Joyce.


[Jackie Snyder speaking] I’m sorry, you’re at your halfway mark.

Okay. At two years, between two years and six months and two years and nine months, you want to have their transition meeting with the school system. So that means that you’re gonna bring your documentation. And I wanna stop right there and stick a peg right there and tell you this; if they don’t contact you, you contact them. You find the school system in your district, you select the school of your choice that {you} want your child to go to. Go to that school, talk with them, find out if they have what your child needs there, find out if they are providing the services that your child needs. And if they’re not, find out from them what they need to do to get them. Because you don’t have to move your child to another school. The school has to bring in what you need there for your child.

And if you need support with that, there are agencies that provide advocacy. It was listed earlier, Families Helping Families, have people who have been trained, most of them have children who have special needs themselves who have already been through these things. EarlySteps has a Community Outreach Specialist who is a person who has a special needs child. And they are trained to act to teach you how to advocate for yourself and your child. They give you the support you need. Exceptional Lives is an advocacy agency, whether they realize it or not. They have everything, all of the supports that you need and people in place who can push you along to help you do what you need to do for your special needs child. Don’t take no for an answer. Okay? Empowered parents make empowered children. And your child is exceptional and special, but it’s your child and they can do everything that you want them to do whenever you want them to do it.

And so, make sure that Child Find or the Child Search coordinator at the school and your district that you’ve chosen, that you want your child to go to has all of the information for your child. If you’re in EarlySteps or in an early intervention program, contact that support coordinator or the case manager and make sure that they’ve sent everything to that school system in a timely manner. It should reach the Child Search coordinator by two years and two months. But if it doesn’t, make sure that they get it to them, by two, six, okay. You wanna have that transition meeting by two nine, okay? You wanna do it at two nine because you wanna make sure that they have everything you need, that they have had all of their meetings by the time your child makes three years old. Because those services are set to begin at three years old. And, if your child has not had their meeting by the time they’re three, then they go to the end of a waiting list and it takes quite a bit of time to get to work them in. And you don’t want that to happen. You want to be chief advocate. I can’t hear you, but I can hear you saying it inside of your head. You are their chief advocate, you are their case manager, you are their support coordinator. You’re going to guide their services.

Make sure that Child Find has all the paperwork. Request and schedule a Special Ed Evaluation. Make sure that you get with them and have those dates. Have a transition meeting, make sure that the… We call them LEA’s, they’re the lead education agency person, and those are the Child Search coordinators. Make sure that the LEA schedules that transition meeting for your child and in a timely manner so that you can participate. Make sure that you evaluate all areas of concern for your child. The evaluation sometimes called the pupil appraisal or the 1508 evaluation is very important to how they set up your child’s individualized education plan. You want them to meet your child at their every need so that they can complete their education, it’s important. It’s important to your child, to their life, to their development. And it’s important to you as their parent. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child complete their education and move on to the next level. Your child is a college graduate if you participate with them correctly and get them what they need. And so push them, push them all the way. They’re special needs, but guess what? That just means that you have to do special things to make their life what it’s supposed to be. Don’t give up on them. Don’t give up on them and don’t teach them how to give up on themselves. You push them. Your child can be president of this United States of America if you push them to it. Okay? And I want you to know that. I’ve worked in these service areas for over 25 years, with all kinds of families and children with special needs and everything else. But guess what? I never gave up on not one of them. They are the people that make this life worth living for me. I love what I do.

Transition is not an easy thing for your child. But they are familiar with it. They’re not gonna like being away from you, they’re not gonna like meeting new people all the time, but I want you to talk with them about it. Tell them the truth. Tell them everything that they need to know to make their transition easy and doable for them, okay? So, you’re gonna… When you’re looking for a school, I think we can go to the next slide. When you’re looking for a school for them, when you’re looking for a childcare setting for them, take them with you. Their physical cues will let you know when you have arrived at the right destination. This is where my child feels comfortable. This is where they connected with the people here. And so, you’re gonna talk to them about that. Do you feel good here? Do you like it here? You’re gonna let them tell you whether this is where they want to be. And then you work with that environment to help your child fit in and feel comfortable and get what they need there. You look into the preschools, visit preschools, make visual schedule, make a visual schedule of the aids. You’re going to… It doesn’t just have to be you, it can be you and your husband and your child. And if you have other children, you can take them along too, if you can take them with you. Because all of that will make your child feel comfortable when they have to get there. They can do this, your child can do this. They’re comfortable with transition, they understand transition. But my question is, can you do it? Can you help your child to make their transitions easily and seamlessly? See, you wanna make it as easy for them as possible by talking with them about it, explaining to them what’s gonna happen. And then doing it. Our next slide, you wanna…

With your IEP team, you wanna form good relationships with them. The teachers, the IEP team, everyone in that setting where your child is. Don’t forget that special needs children are sometimes treated unfairly. And so when you show up, when you communicate with those teachers and providers, you set the agenda for your child. When you love your child, so do other people. When you care about them, so do others. You see, so you wanna plan for regular communication, you wanna monitor the services and the progress. If your child is not making progress, you wanna find out why and what do we need to do to help my child to advance forward. The point of them getting an education is to keep moving forward. Communication is key. You teach others how to treat your child when you show up and you show love and you show concern. So, you can ask for a meeting any time, but you will have an annual IEP meeting. So, annually they’re gonna revisit your child’s education plan. But along the way, you wanna monitor it yourself to make sure that your child is advancing. When you’re… By the time you reach, your child reaches age three or five, you’re gonna be managing services and relationships very well by then. And then you’re gonna… You’re going… So we can go to the next slide.

You’re gonna learn about school options. Again, I’m gonna say, visit schools and prepare your child. Take your child with you. Make sure that they’re comfortable in that environment. Be ready to connect with the teachers and form new relationships with the new IEP team, Individualized Education Plan. And make sure that they follow your child’s plan once it’s set up, because that plan is going to help your child to advance. Okay? Any school you choose, and we’ll say this again, any school that you choose is the right school for your child, because the law requires that they give your child what they need. You don’t have to take them to another school, you select that school because it fits into your life, it fits into your child’s life. And then you go there and find out if they have what your child needs. And if they have what your child needs, good, it’s a good fit. If they don’t, then you work with them to get what they need for your child, okay? So, get the book, the IDEA book, which gives you the law. And if you don’t wanna get the book, look it up online, familiarize yourself with that information because that helps your advocacy. And then there’s a book called “Wrightslaw” which is about education for special needs children. Guess what? Get that book or look it up online and get familiar with the information that supports what you need for your child. Recognize inequality when it happens. You don’t want your child to be mistreated in any fashion. So you want them to be treated fairly in that classroom. You want them to be recognized and supported and encouraged. All right? The goal is to work in partnership with the school to create and maintain a plan that will support your child’s needs. So, having said that, I hope that you’ve been encouraged today to support your child. Special needs is not wrong, it’s just different. And different is not wrong. It’s just different. So you learn everything you need to know to support your child with their differences. Who knows what their purpose is here. You can help them to find it if you become their chief advocate and maintain your stand that you’re gonna get them to the finish line at the highest point that you can. I hope I’ve helped you today. Are there any questions? Did we get any questions in the question and answer chat?

[Christina] Yes, yes, I think we have a couple that Marisa is fielding. But thank you, thank you so much. Let me just say that first, Joyce. That was so nice. And I just love the way you give us the information, but talk about who our children are and how the emotional pieces can work in our favor. So, I appreciate that and thank you, Joyce. We do have questions and answers. Now, if you… Please if you have more questions, put them in the Q and A box and we will see what questions we have.

[Marisa Howard-Karp] Julie.

Yeah, go ahead.

[Marisa Howard-Karp] I have sent you a question through the direct message ’cause it didn’t come through the Q and A, so we can start there.

Okay. Okay, yeah, so here’s the question. You said we should monitor our child’s progress, but this is my first child and I’m not really sure what on-track looks like. So yeah, so that’s a great question. How do we monitor our child’s progress in school especially in the early grades when it doesn’t seem like quite report card time yet? Joyce.

When they set up that Individualized Education Plan, the IEP, there are timelines for what your child should be learning. So you’re gonna get a copy of that IEP, and you’re gonna keep up with it. You’re gonna find out as your child questions, did you learn about this today? Go and talk to the teacher and ask them, how is my child doing? Is he… And who is he learning? What’s in his individualized or her individualized education plan? Are they progressing? And, what can I do at home to help this process? And you’ll see the progress with your child. One thing that children do, they talk to people about their mommy and their daddy and their teacher. And once the child’s starts school, they come home every day and tell you, my teacher said this and my teacher said that. And so based on that information that your child gives you, you’re gonna know if they’re learning. If they’re improving in the areas where they were delayed. And so you’ll be able to tell about that, but you have a plan. And you’re gonna keep up with that plan, and you’re gonna keep communication with that teacher to find out how your child is doing. Are they increasing in their plan? Have they learned this first thing on their plan? There’s gonna be information on that IEP. And so, and I want you to read up on an IEP before your child gets to that level. Read up on it ahead of time, contact Families Helping Families and let them help you understand what should go into the individualized education plan and how you monitor that plan. You want your child when they start with that plan, you want them to get through it and be finished with it by the end of the year. So they’re gonna have things listed there that your child needs to learn. You wanna know, is my child learning the things that he needs to or she needs to learn in her individualized education plan? Okay. I hope that answered your question.

Thank you, Joyce. Thank you, Joyce. So, another question we have, this is a good one. What is the process for preparing a really anxious child for school? So, you talked about how children get transitions, but sometimes they’re very anxious for a new setting and to start school and be in a different place. So, do you have some recommendations on helping them with that?

I do. Guess what? I want you to calm yourself down first of all. What was your first day on your job like? You had unanswered questions, you had the fear of the unknown. That is what your child experiences going to school. And so you put yourself in their place by reflecting on what you experienced going to your new job. And then talk it out with them. Ask them how they feel about it. If they say they’re scared, tell them what to experience. You’ve been to school before, so tell them something that they may experience so that everything is not unknown to them. They’re gonna meet a new teacher and take them over to the school if necessary, introduce them to the teacher, introduce them to their new classmates if some of them are there, introduce them to the staff, take them on a tour of the school, let them see where they’re gonna be and let them know beyond everything else that you’re gonna be close by and you will be coming by to check on them as often as you can.

That is what will make your child feel most secure, if they know that you’re going to be around and you will be coming there whenever you can to make sure that everything is okay. And I know some people work so you won’t be able to get there every day, and you really shouldn’t get there every day. But you should go sometimes and show up and let your child see, my mom comes to see about me. That will help them to feel safe and secure beyond everything else. And if you can’t go, if grandmother can go, or some family member that they trust and that they know can go and just check on them every now and again when you first start. Once they make friends and get comfortable with the teacher, they’ll be okay. But initially, it’s just the fear of the unknown. So you calm their fears and anxiety by talking it out with them, taking them to the school when you can, letting them get familiar with their surroundings, okay?

Thank you so much, Joyce. That was great. We have another really good question too. I know a lot of people can relate to this. Even though I know not to take no for an answer from the school, that can be hard. Any suggestions on how to push for what they need?

Use the law. Just simply tell them, you don’t have to be rude or ugly or anything. And I went through this with a parent who had a child with cerebral palsy who wanted her child to go to school. And she was a beautician, she wanted to get back to work and the school was close to her home and they didn’t have anything. But she went over to the school, we talked about it. One of the, Tomorow Fondal, who I worked with at EarlySteps she said, put everything in writing. But I went over to the school with her and we talked to them and let them know the law says that you have to get what my child needs. So for the first year he was on the first floor, they put in what he needed, they got everything. They got diapers, they got the feeding, they took the feeding courses to be able to feed him. They did everything. He even ended up with an electrical chair to be able to do his little work, what he could do and stuff. And so the next year he had to go to the second floor. They had to put in an elevator to get him to the second floor so that he could get classes. The law is serious when it says every child is entitled to an education, the best possible education that they can get. So, that school had to put in an elevator to get that child to the second floor. The mom was inexperienced, this was her only child that she ever had. She… We talked about it, I gave it a book, she took a look at it. And then she said, “I’m ready to go.” We went over to the school, I didn’t say anything, She did all the talking. And she said, “This is the school I want my child to go to. It’s close to me, if there’s an emergency I can get here timely and see about him. This is what I need you to do.” And she showed them the law, what is said in the law. And so when she showed it to them, she gave them a letter in writing. This is what I’m requesting, this is what I’m requiring. And in probably about a couple of months, they had everything in place and her child started school. So, read that book, read that information, go online and read about IDEA. Get that “Wrightslaw” book and see what it says. Your child’s rights are as it relates to a special needs education. Put something in writing to them and don’t take no for an answer. If they say, well, we can’t do it. Go back to the school, stand in front of them and tell them, I’m not accepting you can’t do it, you’re going to do it because the law says you have to do it. Guess what? They’ll do it. They’ll do it.

Thanks Joyce. And now you have a question about who else can be your child’s advocate? Does it have to be a parent?

Well… It can be. It can be the support coordinator, depending on relationship. It can be the teacher. It can be a friend, it can be a grandparent. It can be a godparent. You just have to find your support persons, put them in place and it can be a team, a team of people who can advocate for your child. But it has to be a team that you put together, the parent puts together or the guardian puts together or the family puts together so that somebody… Always with advocacy, somebody has to be the person who monitors what’s going on. And so even if you have a team of people, there has to be a leader for that team to make sure that that child is being cared for, being protected, being provided for and being taken care of. So, it doesn’t just have to be the parent. If the parent has someone who can be an advocate for them and their child, the parent still has the guide that process. You have to tell your advocate what you want for yourself and your child, okay? I’m not letting you off the hook because this is your child and they’re dependent on you. And you can do this. And if you can’t, call me, I’ll help you. I’ll leave my phone number you call me, I will help you. I will help you to become the advocate you need to be because it’s in you, this is your child, your love guides this process more than anything else. You’re love and your care for your child is what is going to guide your process for your baby. Okay. And I’ll help you, just remember that. I will help you.

Thank you so much, Joyce. I think there was like a couple more questions, but we’re gonna get to them, make sure that people get to them through email. And again, if you have any other questions that come up afterwards, you can email any of us. We can put our emails in the chat and we’ll make sure that you get answers to your questions. And I do… Just a quick plug for it, we do have… If you look up on the Exceptional Lives site, there’s a lot of information about EarlySteps, about IDEA, about the special ed process and about transitioning children into school at age three to five. So there’s more there, we are available. And I wanna move along now next to just a quick parent commentary. Thank you so much, Joyce. Joyce is still gonna be here, but first we’re gonna hear from… I’m gonna turn it over to two members of our Exceptional Lives team, Jackie and Christina, to get their firsthand experience with transitioning their child into the school system.


They will unmute.

Technical difficulties there, sorry about that.

Controlling everyone else’s and I can’t control mine. All right. Let’s see. Hello, I am Jackie Snyder. I am the Resource and Special Projects Manager at Exceptional Lives. I am a 50 year old light-skinned white woman with short brown hair, hazel eyes, wearing glasses and a brown shirt. I am here with my colleague, Christina.

Hey there, I’m Christina Kozik, the Community Engagement Specialist with Exceptional Lives. I’m a 35 year old light-skinned brown woman with brown eyes, shoulder length brown hair. And I am wearing a floral print shirt.

Well, I am a single mother of a six year old daughter. She was diagnosed with ADHD and both of us were born and raised in the bayous of Houma.

And I’m a married mother with a six-year-old boy. He was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, OCD and anxiety. My husband, who works offshore, and I are from California, but we’ve lived in Mandeville for 15 years. Now, both Jackie and I have gone through the transition process with our kiddos. Jackie’s experience is different than mine though. And so we wanted to tell you a little bit about that. Jackie, would you like to tell us about what you and your daughter went through?

Certainly. Our journey began when my nine month old loud, babbling, baby girl suddenly became quiet. Not totally uncommon in children as they grow, their focus can completely shift to other skills such as walking. Yet at her wellness visit, while checking developmental milestones, our pediatrician noticed her speech was not at par for her age. By the next regularly scheduled visit, my little one was non-verbal. So we were referred to EarlySteps for evaluation. What about your family, Christina?

So we actually went through a little bit of a different approach. Up until my son was about three years old, he was a rambunctious, loud little boy. But not long after his third birthday, we started to see some behavioral issues. And it took us a while to get some direction, but we were finally pointed to Child Search at our school board when he was about four.

How did you feel that process worked for you? For us, I actually wondered if I hadn’t personally known teachers from outside of the system, would we have even qualified for services? I mean, they gave us word of mouth knowledge to kind of help navigate the bureaucracy.

And for us, our process was remarkably easy. We were very fortunate that we had medical records showing that there was a diagnosis and that really helps support the need for the evaluation and services.

How did you know to get a diagnosis upfront? And how did you find out about Child Search?

Well, we were under the impression that services like EarlySteps were based on income and we didn’t think that we would qualify for any sort of help. So we kept bringing our concerns up with our pediatrician, and our pediatrician ended up referring us to a behavioral pediatrician in New Orleans. And that’s how I happened to have a diagnosis beforehand. But it was the director of the last preschool that he was at that told us about Child Search.

I was concerned about the income limit as well, since we were borderline. But then I found out because my daughter had other issues aside from being non-verbal, that those would help her qualify for services. For example, parents tend to underemphasize their child’s problems. Had I known that a child has… Had I not known that the child has to have at least two developmental delays in order to qualify for services, I would not have mentioned her behavior issues. But once again, this knowledge was gathered from word of mouth, since parents are not told this rule up front.

Yeah, and another thing that I found out through our process, was that if you have medical documentation, you want to tell that to your EarlySteps or your Child Search specialist or coordinator, whoever you might be working with, what you have. Make those copies, bring them with you, give them to them so they can put them in your child’s file. Another thing that I know both Jackie and I wish that we would have known about, was Exceptional Lives. When we were trying to locate services and supports, the things like the guides from the website and the resource directory really would have helped us see what that process would have looked like, it would have also helped us save a lot of time trying to find supports and services.

Not only time, but it would’ve saved needless worrying and not to mention the added stress I had.

Yes, so true. So true. Well, Jackie and I were really happy to be able to share our experiences with you today. We will see you guys in the discussion rooms, and now I’m going to hand it back to Julie.

All right, thank you guys so much. It’s really helpful to hear personal experiences. And it’s also… They were able to show us sort of the pathway for this transition, both through EarlySteps, if your child is in EarlySteps, you have the support of your coordinator and stuff. But if your child was not in EarlySteps, sometimes it can be harder to know who to call, what to do. So it was nice to hear about your different experiences. So, what we’re gonna do… For the next like six or seven minutes, we just wanna have a little discussion about, just about what your experiences are. And we would like to give you guys a chance to connect a little bit. And–

Check out more free videos from our webinar series on supporting young children with disabilities.


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