How does your state define developmental delay?

tired-toddlerFor children under the age of 3, your state’s early intervention system can provide services for a developmental delay. But all states do not define “developmental delay” the same way.

To find your state’s definition for babies and toddlers, visit NECTAC (the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center). They have a chart of each state with their Level of Developmental Delay Required for Eligibility. (You should know that diagnosed physical or mental conditions with a “high probability of resulting in developmental delay,” commonly referred to as “established conditions,” is also an eligibility category, but it is not listed in this chart.)

Alternatively, you can ask your local school or early intervention program to tell you the definition of “developmental delay” that’s used in your area.

Where can you find more info?

• The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, known as NICHCY, has been the go-to organization for all things pertaining to early intervention and special education. Although they lost their funding and closed their doors, their materials have been incorporated into the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) website.  I suggest that you visit the CPIR site to find tons of useful information you may need for your child’s future.  For example, to learn more about developmental delays, getting a developmental screening and evaluation, connecting with other parents, and finding out about other resources, see their page on developmental delays.

• If you have a baby or toddler and suspect that her development is not on track, learn more about developmental milestones.  Always discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician. In addition, you can contact your state’s coordinator of early intervention services directly and request an evaluation.

• If you have a child age 3 or older, see this blog post to learn how to initiate services and visit CPIR to understand the definition of developmental delay for kids 3+ as defined in the law.

• Connect with your PTI – Every state has a Parent Training and Information Center, known as the PTI. Some states have several. If you are looking to connect with state and local resources, or have questions about services and parent rights, talk to your PTI. Find the PTI for your state here. One of the “Type of State Organization” choices in the dropdown menu includes “Organizations for Parents.” Click that option, then your state. The PTI will be listed in your results.

Bottom line

There are many resources in place to help your child if she needs them. It is always better to be proactive then reactive. Don’t delay with delays.

Note: This post is part of the series on Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. See the Table of Contents to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

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Updated October 2015.