Early Intervention - Chicago,IL

Updated on July 09, 2009
B.K. asks from Chicago, IL
5 answers

My 23 month old son was evaluated by EI and a Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrician who EI referred us to. He has Sensory Integration Issues, speech delay, feeding problems, I would say a mild case of the Sensory issues. I've been dealing with EI since March 09, tomorrow is our first appt. with a speech therapist. For OT a young Occpational Therapy Assistant (a young girl just out of school) comes to the house, not much help. The only one who knows what she's talking about is the pathologist assigned to help him with his feeding problems. What I wanted to ask is how helpful is EI? Should I be patient (and go after the coordinator to help more) or look for additional help outside of EI? Time is going by and there is no change with my son. I just feel guilty like I should be doing more for him. He only has said about 5 words, will only eat mashed foods, won't sit still (constant climber). Autism has been ruled out he is very sociable. The child is bright, happy and so lovable. No tantrums yet (thank goodness).

To all you moms starting out your day I have a great quote "To the whole world, you are just one person, but to one person - your child, you are the whole world." Have a great day.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi B.,

Both of my sons have been evaluated by EI. The first got services for about a month and a half before he turned 3. Just had the 2nd evaluated a couple months ago and are currently on the waiting list for speech.

I would definitely push to get a different OT!! While the girl needs to get experience, your son needs the best therapy he can get. I wouldn't rule out getting outside services either. My older son is now in the school system getting services there, but we also take him for private OT and speech. Our insurance covers most of it. You should look into it.

Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

My experience with EI has been wonderful. But the key is to be a strong, assertive advocate for your son. It's really tough to do this at first -- especially when you don't understand the EI process (I didn't!!) I feel that our Service Coordinators have been very professional and helpful..but their job is to find the first available therapist for your son. That's just how it works.

OTs and STs (speech therapists) have very long waiting lists. I was initially asked if I would be willing to work with an assistant Speech Therapist (unlicensed). I declined and the next day our Srv. Coord. found our current (wonderful!) ST.

Further, I was very unhappy with my OT after the first 2 months and it was clear that her philosophy of treatment did not meet my son's individual needs. I had my Service Coordinator fire her from our case. Knowing how long it might take for the Srv Coord to find another OT, I went out on my own and found an OT that was in the EI program myself -- and then got my Service Coordinator to assign her to my son.

I agree with the other posters -- contact your Service Coordinator immediately and let her know you feel the current OT is not experienced enough to help your son and you want an experienced OT. But please be aware that your Service Coordinator may tell you that it could take months to find a new one.

If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message. Best of luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Hi B.!

Yes, in EI you can and should request of your Service Coordinator to assign a different OT if you are not happy with the service provided. An COTA (OT assistant) right out of school, in the home (therefore, not mentored directly by a senior staff member) may be out of her league with your child and need more guidance and supervision to really provide the level of care required in your son's case. Request a fully qualified OT, not a COTA. I am not sure where you live in the city, but I would highly recommend the OT's who work at City Kids, which is on the Northwest side, up by Park Ridge. I can't locate their website right now, but here is their contact info:
5669 N Northwest Hwy
Chicago, IL 60646-6176

The therapists there are all qualified to provide care and bill through EI, although they do not typically see kids in the home.



answers from Chicago on

Hi B.,
I use to be a Service Coordinator for EI. I believe that EI can be VERY helpful when you have the right therapists for your child. I agree with the other posts to call your Service Coordinator, but remember that OT and Speech(especially ones with feeding experience) are hard to find. I would continue with the therapists that you have now, because some therapy is better than nothing and you are still going to be charged the family fee(if you have one). I would only say to discontinue services if you are uncomfortable with how the therapist is around your child.
Service Coordinators get a lot of calls every day, so I would say to be patient but as a mother myself I would say to make your concerns known to the Service Coordinator and check in with the progress.
Please feel free to write me if you have any questions about what your Service Coordinator should be doing.



answers from Chicago on

Your story sounds similar to mine, except that EI started with ST for feeding, and she (and her supervisor) knew nothing about sensory feeding issues, and we had to fight to get OT. Get recommendations for a good OT. EI doesn't always screen the therapists for experience and knowledge in your child's particular issues. We requested a new ST from our service coordinator, after realizing she had no clue how to help our son, and had been told by the evaluating ST he'd only need 6 months of therapy, and 3 months later, he'd made no progress (of course, the therapist went to China for a month right in the middle...)

You should have an OT, not an assistant. Even many OTs are not certified/knowledgeable about sensory issues. Call around. Many places will take Early Intervention clients. We found our own OT after waiting several months with no hope of getting one. But she did take Early Intervention, so it worked out. I learned that you can't rely on EI, but it's nice to have them pay.

Where are you located? We are in the northwest suburbs, and if you're near by, may have some recommendations for you. We've been through all this, including the school system as well. My son is about to turn 6, and eats better than his older sister. We did hit therapy hard when he turned 3, however; Besides the 2x a week school district OT and ST, we did private ST, a feeding therapist (who was an expert & understood about sensory on top of it!) and private OT 3 times every 2 weeks. Luckily, insurance covered everything but the feeding therapist.

I guess my advice is don't get rid of EI, but realize their limitations; they have a lot of clients waiting for services and any single child is not their priority. Definitely advocate for your child; Do some research and call around, ask for recommendations from other parents as well. Let me know where you are located; I belong to a local online group that may have some therapist recommendations for you! Good luck!


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