Choosing the right placement for your preschooler with special needs

Consider these special needs preschool programs

Consider these special needs preschool programs

Need help choosing where to get developmental help or special needs services for your preschooler? There are several places you can turn to for help here in the Hudson Valley. The New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Education can help you to find the necessary evaluations and programs for your child, no matter what their needs.


Finding programs for children three and under

If you have a child three or under, start by calling your county’s department of health and tell them your concerns – your child’s not walking, not talking, is having trouble focusing, or other concerns. They’ll send you a list of evaluation facilities where your child can be tested, such as the Arc Greater Hudson Valley or Center for Spectrum Services.

READ MORE: Stepping Into Early Intervention

Set up an appointment with the facility for a team evaluation. Once you get the results, you, a representative from the Health Department and the evaluator will review them together. The evaluator will share what areas he feels your child may need help with. They may recommend speech therapy, behavior services, occupational therapy, sensory integration programs, physical or play therapy. The evaluator will let you know how much therapy is needed too.


Programs for three- to five-year-olds

The procedure for finding programs for children ages three to five is very similar to the under three programs. The difference is that the process is overseen by the New York State Department of Education. If your child is between three and five years old, start with your local school district and express your concerns. You should receive a list of state-approved special need services facilities that also offer free evaluations.

Again, once your child is tested, you will meet with the evaluator and school district representative to go over the results and determine what services, if any, are needed.


Making a smooth transition

The main thing is for families to feel comfortable with the center they choose for their special needs child. Sometimes, after attending an early intervention program, children don’t need to continue services. If they do, however, have a very smooth transition process worked out, including very specific dates and timelines.


Jennifer Warren is a freelance writer who lives in Dutchess County. She has a vested interest in special needs children, as she has been tutoring them in English for the past twenty years.