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The Role of the Parent in Early Intervention

If your child has been referred for an evaluation for early intervention (EI) services, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. There’s a good chance that you do not have prior experience with the EI system, and if your child was recently diagnosed with a disability, you may not have previous knowledge of his or her condition. Always remember that while a clinician can diagnose and treat your child, you know your child best. You’re familiar with his or her needs, desires and struggles. The active involvement of the parent in the EI program is highly critical for a successful individualized family service plan (IFSP), or treatment plan.

Parental Rights

Understanding your family’s legal rights is part of becoming an informed advocate. You should have been provided with copies of relevant regulations and procedures, which protect the rights of families. If not, ask your service coordinator for them. Review these documents carefully and ask questions if you do not understand something. If your native language is not English, you have the right to request explanations of services in your native language.

Be aware that you must grant written consent for your child to be evaluated and receive services, and you may withdraw consent at any time. If a dispute arises, you have the right to file for due process.

Your Child’s Disability

In addition to understanding your family’s rights, learn more about your child’s disability so that you can help him or her more effectively. (See the Disability Profiles on this site for a start.) Ask your child’s pediatrician (or therapist) for information on his or her condition. Research government and university websites for authoritative information. Ask the professionals who evaluate or treat your child to recommend relevant and credible books and websites.

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