What to do when you suspect that your child may have a disability

A Parent’s Guide to Addressing Developmental Concerns in Their Child

What to do when you suspect that your child may have a disability or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – here is our advice:

Start with a consult with your GP or Paediatrician

Start by discussing your concerns with your child’s doctor. They can assess your child’s situation and recommend further evaluation if necessary. This evaluation may involve specialists such as speech therapists, psychologists, or neurodevelopmental paediatricians.

Obtain an Evaluation

Depending on whether you prefer public or private services, there are different avenues to pursue:

Public Sector

  • For children under 3, contact your state’s early intervention program for evaluation.
  • If your child is 3 or older, reach out to your local school district for assessments.

Private Sector

  • Seek evaluation services from specialists like paediatricians or child psychologists.

Gather Relevant Documents

It’s important to gather the necessary documents for the evaluation process and potential placement in specialized schools.

These may include:

  • Medical records detailing any diagnoses or medical conditions.
  • Previous assessments or evaluations.
  • Educational records, including reports from early intervention programs or preschools.

Before we continue we need to make mention of the fact that the Private Sector Autism Service, Therapy programs, or Autism Early Intervention centres tend to be less fussy when it comes to the paperwork or documentation.  In the Public Sector, it is however pertinent to gather all the relevant paperwork because they will not consider your child for placement in an LSEN facility if they do not have the proper diagnostic paper trail.

What are our reasons for recommending a parent follow the steps as detailed above:

  • Early intervention improves outcomes by providing timely support.
  • A formal diagnosis grants access to specialized programs and services from both the Public and Private Sector.
  • A formal diagnosis grants families access to financial support in the form of the ITR-DD. Parents can download this form directly of the SARS website: here:  https://www.sars.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/SARS_ITR-DD_PD_E_v2023.13.00.pdf  (families are encouraged to talk to their tax practitioner about this type of disability claim).
  • Understanding your child’s needs allows for effective advocacy and planning.

By taking proactive steps, parents can ensure that their child receives the necessary support and resources to thrive.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.