1. Consult with your pediatrician. According to the Parent Handbook downloadable from the Health Division site, to be eligible for early intervention in Nevada, your child will need to have at least a 50 percent delay in development in one area, a 25 percent delay in two areas, or a diagnosis that makes such a delay likely. The areas considered are "cognitive development (learning/ understanding); physical development, including motor, vision and hearing; communication development (speech/ language); social or emotional development; or adaptive development (self-help)." Your doctor should be knowledgeable about these requirements and able to make the referral to NEIS or give you the information necessary to do so. The importance of early intervention and the availability of these services is a good reason to urge your doctor to move past the "wait and see" phase and toward an identification of problems and needed therapies.
2. Call Project ASSIST, which provides information about services for kids with special needs through age 21, to request help for your child, if your doctor or another professional has not done this for you.
The phone number is 1-800-522-0066, and the staff member who answers should be able to get you started in applying to the program or answer any questions you our your family members may have about it. You might also contact the office of the Nevada PEP to talk to a parent educator about what you need to know to successfully advocate for your child, in early intervention and beyond.
3. Your child will be evaluated by a team including speech, physical, and occupational therapists to develop an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) that determines the services your child will receive and where they will be delivered. Your goals and wishes should also be considered in the development of the plan, and you may be asked to fill out forms or attend interviews. To educate yourself about the IFSP process and what it involves in Nevada, download the Parent Handbook and Parent Rights and Responsibilities from the Health Division site and read that site's pages on early intervention services and programs. You can also download a sample Nevada IFSP form from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.
4. When you receive the IFSP, review it to make sure you agree with the services specified and the site at which they will be delivered. Your consent is required before the services can be delivered, and you have a right to turn down anything you disagree with or back out of the program altogether. According to the Health Division site, services provided in the IFSP may include assistive technology, audiology, family training, health services, medical services, nutrition counseling, speech therapy,physical therapy,occupational therapy, psychological services, social-work services, and transportation services. Therapies should be provided in a natural setting, which may include your home or a day-care center your child attends. Ask questions and make sure you understand everything mentioned in the IFSP before giving your consent.
5. Service providers will be assigned to your child, and you can find out more about them through listings on the Health Division site. Collaborate with the therapists who will be working with your child, sharing insights from your experience and asking for suggestions on how you can continue the work your child is doing at home between sessions.