If you feel your child needs a screening or an assessment by a speech-language pathologist, there are a few different ways to look for one.
How to locate federally funded programs:
Thanks to federal programs and funding, there are programs and services available to all children in the United States (for those found eligible) from birth through age 21. They are a result of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs and services are available at NO COST TO YOU if your child is found eligible, so I encourage you to research these programs if you feel your child may need interventions of any kind.
Straight off the IDEA website:
“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.”( http://idea.ed.gov/ )
Birth to Three: Though the exact programs vary state to state, children from birth to three are typically seen through some kind of early intervention (EI) program (IDEA part C: You can read about it HERE). If you are concerned about your child’s development, you can first speak to your child’s pediatrician who can refer you to the appropriate programs in your area. You can also go to your state’s website for information on how to obtain an assessment and any services needed through IDEA Part C. Your child is eligible for services under IDEA Part C through his/her third birthday. Services are outlined and documented through an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). This is like a contract between the family and those providing the services stating (among other things) what the present levels of development are for the child, goals for the child to meet in a specific time frame, and the services/programs that will help the child to achieve those goals.
Ages Three to 21: Once your child turns three (and through his/her twenty-first year), he/she become eligible for any necessary services through IDEA Part B. These services (with some exceptions) are provided by the school district in which you reside. This is usually true for preschool aged children as well (3-5) regardless if the child attends a district preschool program, as well as for young adults ages 18-21. (Because programs differ state to state, you will need to contact your local state or school district to inquire about these services, but regardless of who provides them your child is entitled to them if he/she meets the eligibility criteria). These services are provided under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which is similar, but different, from an IFSP used in birth-3. You can read more about IDEA Part B HERE.
How to locate a private Speech-Pathologist:
Perhaps you want to supplement the services your child already receives through IDEA. Or maybe your child did not qualify for those services. Or, maybe you just choose not to pursue services through IDEA. Whatever your personal reasons, you can always have your child assessed by a speech-pathologist who work privately or who works for a private or non public agency. Here are some ways to find one:
- Check the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) online data base for SLPs in your area. You can access this data base HERE.
- Ask your pediatrician. They often will have a list of local service providers
- Ask your local school district’s special education department. They also often will have a list of private providers.
- Part of a mommy group or mommy list-serve? Ask around for recommendations.
- Live near a University? Call and see if they have a Speech and Hearing/Communication Disorders Clinic. Here, graduate level students in Communication Disorders provide assessments and therapy at a minimal cost (and sometimes FREE) under the supervision of a professor.
- Do a Google or White Pages search for Speech-Language Pathologist or Speech Therapy