What Does Exactly Early Interventions Assessments Mean for Our Child?

Updated on August 07, 2010
A.K. asks from Austin, TX
20 answers

We got our 24 month old DS evaluated by EI due to speech delay. EI people told us that he qualifies for speech therapy. They assessed his speech delayed enough. His motor skills and problem solving/cognitive skills were rated at way above his age. They also suspected minor sensory sensitivity. Anyway, that's all what they told us. Given that speech delay is one of the signs of autism spectrum disorder, I thought EI would either rule it out or share their concern with us if they had any. None of them happened. Can I draw any conclusion out of their visit? Can I say that EI does not see enough 'red flags' because they would tell me if they did?? What should I think now?

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So What Happened?

Our ds didn't talk except a few words until he was three and half and then all of a sudden he started to talk. Unfortunetaly EI didn't work well for us except upsetting us by suggesting ASD as the cause for speech delay based on their early assessment. Our son is a happy talkative boy now.

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answers from Dallas on


My understanding is that ECI will not give you a diagnosis. They provide therapy for the delays and help to shore up those deficits. When we did ECI we did speech and occupational therapy. We were never given a diagnosis.




answers from Dallas on

my oldest was creepy at solving problems and his cognaitive skills were through the roof before 1. HOWEVER he really never talked at all. he made animal sounds and would respond to questions, and sign, but never really very verbal. he is now JUST 3 and he doesn't shut up. SO...i wouldn't worry too much about it. I know that is hard when other people have 2 year olds talking in full sentences, but i'd just lay low for about a year...just my opinion. My 2nd is the total opposite. he is 18 months and talks in 5 word phrases...however the problem solving skills are not nearly what the other's was. brains develop differently and it is crazy to see the other side! Hang in there. If he hasn't picked up speech by 3 or 3.5, maybe have him re-assessed to give you some more peace of mind

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answers from Lansing on

I sorta had the same thing happen with my daughter, at 14 months she was showing no signs of talking, but when the eraly on people did an assessment they said she was cognitively above everyone else?? I ended up taking her to an ENT doc for tubes where they did a hearing test and she couldn't hear due to excess fluid build up in her ears!! Once she got the tubes within a few weeks she started babbling away! Who would have thought. Just keep trying and use your local resources, your mommy instinct is best!!

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answers from Dallas on

I went through something similar. I thing he's too young to make that assessment right now. They didn't diagnos my son til 4 1/2 cause they just weren't sure. And even now, they said he could go either way. So I would just get any help they will give you and work with him. Good luck. Actually, at 3 he went into the school system, but it was pretty much a continuation of EI. I hope all works out well for you and your family. God Bless.

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answers from Joplin on

Children can be "on the spectrum" and not be Autistic. Also there are different levels of Autism from mild to severe. My son failed the M-CHAT at age 2 but after a solid year of speech therapy and ABA therapy he has made incredible progress, was it "Just a delay" or did the early intervention work? We won't ever know...do I regret a single day of the therapy or hard work? Not a second of it. My little one still is delayed some, he is definitely behind his peers socially and emotionally, he has many sensory issues, but being aware of them it is pretty "normal" for us now = ) I don't care what his "label" or "diagnosis" may be...to us he is just Alex, and we love him just as he is. If he outgrows some of his "little quirks" fine, if not...oh well. Differences are what makes the world an exciting place. In our extended Family I have a niece who is severely Autistic, a niece who has Asperger syndrome, I think technically what they say Alex has is something called PDD-NOS, and we speculate that our 9 year old may have some Aspie qualities, my eldest son is "gifted" our society is obsessed with labels when really all we need to do is see how we can be comfortable in our surroundings. I say if your child has some special needs address them but don't obsess about it. Our family says Normal is boring or over rated = ) I will say that finding the right therapy can make all the difference in the world.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with Sarah O. go with the mommy instincts! The "early interventions" in my area also evaluated my son at 2 yrs old. They tried to tell me that my son had a developmental delay, also under the autism spectrum and that was why he was not talking a lot. I didn't believe them, I knew I had babied him and he let me. So instead I stepped it up and now my child is 4yrs old, talks all the time and can read (self taught). If you feel something in your gut go with it, some times mom does know best.



answers from Dallas on

Talk to the speech pathologist about your concerns. There are many children that have speech delays that are not on the autism spectrum. Are there symptoms besides the speech delay that make you concerned with this? The speech pathologist might not have seen any signs of this, but a speech pathologist can not diagnose a child with autism by themself. There are other professionals that have to be involoved with that diagnosis. Hope this helps. I am a speech pathoogist.



answers from Elmira on

Early intervention can't give you a diagnosis. They might give you their personal opinion, but you have to take your child to see a developmental pediatrician. My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He was alredy enrolled in early intervention by the time he got the diagnosis. The earlier you get the help, the better. My son is now five and going into kindergarten in the fall. EI was amazing! They worked with Nicholas for about a year and became very attached. He loved them! He was delayed in cognitive, and speech very significantly. He did not start speaking until he was almost 4. After he agaed out of early intervention he attended an 8:1:2 autistic preschool. He has progressed so quickly that I was told he might actually grow out of the autism. I didn't even realize it was possible, but I've been told differently by several people, including the developmental pediatrician. So continue to work with you child, and you will get a lot of help from EI. Good luck!



answers from Wichita on

I wouldn't worry too much about it. My oldest son was in speech, ocupational & physical therapies from birth to 6 y/o. He was born 12 weeks early. However I did daycare & the child I had also had a speech delay & he was full term. Just because I child has a speech delay doesn't mean there is more wrong with them. Just work with the speach therapists & worry about other things later. If your son does end up with autism it will be okay, but there is nothing that will prevent it. The therapists will help him speak better. My oldest is now almost 9 y/o & has very good speech (he doesn't slur anymore).
Relax & enjoy your little boy!

God bless!



answers from Dallas on

Professionals are well meaning, but they don't know your child as well as you do. If your instincts are telling you something's going on or not quite right with your son, follow your instincts and get another opinion. Early intervention is the best thing for any kind of delay. Late speech or lack of speech skills can mean many things besides autism--hearings issues, learning disability, auditory processing issues, etc. They should provide you some kind of written report about the diagnosis, prognosis and planned treatment. Also, maybe they are waiting to figure out what's causing the speech issues after he's been in speech therapy for a while. Just because they don't mention something doesn't mean there aren't red flags. Go with your gut feel and get your child the help he needs now, rather than later.



answers from Dallas on

I work for ECI so hopefully I can answer your question. Usually on a first visit we would not talk about Autism, we just complete the assessment and begin with goals for services. If you are concerned with red flags I would bring that up with your ST or Dev services provider and they can then give you feedback. A mild sensory sensitivity does not mean Autism. All kids with Autism have sensory processing differences, but not all kids with sensory processing differences have Autism. We work with a lot of kids with speech delay and only a small percentage of them also have Autism. That said, if you feel something in your gut, I would trust it and investigate that by asking as many questions as you want, that is what we are there for! :)
I hope that answered your question!



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Sacramento on

No, you can't rule it out. Our son has a processing disorder that caused his speech delay. He has been in speech therapy since he was 18 months. you won't get a formal diagnosis until you see a doctor that has a specialty.
We saw a neurologist finally, that is how we got diagnosed. They know more than just siezures and headaches. They also have other test the do that the schools and special programs don't do. good luck and remember you are your childs advocate!!



answers from Columbus on

No. EI is a state run program that is not a substitute for private diagnostic care and private medical treatment and therapy. EI falls under part B IDEA and is only obligated to make your child functional, not to be everything your child may need to be all that they can developmentally. That is your responsibility to seek a diagnosis if you suspect something is going on. EI is only treating the very most obvious developmental delays, and you should not rely on any state agency to diagnose or tell you everything you need to know about yourchilds development.

If you suspect autism, seek a private evaluation from a Developmental Pediatrician.

State services are helpful, but they are woefully inadequate for comprehensive treatment. Unless you are sire that his speech delay is just a minor thing (and that does not sound like the case) confirm his needs and diagnosis with private professionals and provide him private therApy in addition to the state intervention. If your goal is to maximize your son's potential, you need private services.




answers from Dothan on

I have a niece with SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder. She wasnt much of a talker now at 6 she yaks your ear off with no speech problems. She does however freak out when she gets sensory overload like gum chewing people or large noisy crowds. SPD is not autism, althogh it can show signs ealry on like it is. Please go read up on it. Your kid will be fine, SPD is very managable.



answers from Dallas on

The ECI people can't really diagnose something like that--you'd have to check with your doctor. They can only measure how the baby's development tracks within a "normal range." If there is a delay above a certain number of months, the child will qualify for therapy so he can become age appropriate. I would take the info from the ECI specialist and ask your pediatrician if he/she suspects a larger problem.



answers from Dallas on

Speech delay alone would not signal an AU assessment......if you see other social and behavioral concerns, let them know. I taught PPCD before having children and 100% of my class had speech but only one was diagnosed with autism. Be reassured that if your child has AU, the signs will increase and become overtly obvious. ECI should definitely see it if it is there. Two is young too to jump to that so quickly unless there are other things going on.



answers from Wichita Falls on

Early Childhood Interventions (ECI) is a group of therapists. They don't diagnose disorders such as autism. They test children based on what they "should " be doing if they were a "normal" child. They then come up with a therapy plan to help the child overcome those delays. It is a wonderful program. My son who is now 11 was in ECI because of a severe speech delay. He did not talk where people could understand him until he was 4 years old. If you are concerned about your child having autism, talk to his doctor. I'm not sure what is available in the austin area, but you will probably need to go to a child study center. Speech delay and sensory disorders are often linked to children with autism disorders. definately talk to your pediatrician.




answers from Tyler on

Hey -
In my opinion (only), EI is there to help children keep up. But, they are not the end all/be all. My son was reviewed by EI early and they said he was "in the normal spectrum" for speech and other issues I was concerned about. Well, in my opinion, the normal spectrum is really huge and even though my son was near the low end on a couple of items, he never qualified for services through EI. However, I pursued private speech therapy for him and through those therapy services, they diagnosed sensory integration disorder and he went on to have physical and occupational therapy.

If EI is saying that your son DOES need help, then definitely take advantage of what they offer. My son truly benefited from speech therapy and all of the other therapies that he received. Now that EI is saying that your son needs help, if you are not clear on what they are offering, call them up and get clarification. I don't know your personal situation, but if you don't feel that you are getting enough help through them, go through your own pediatrician and use your personal insurance to get more help (that is what I did).

The therapy, especially early therapy, is well worth it.

Also, speech delay may be one of the signs of autism, but many children are speech delayed for many more reasons than autism. Autistic children also have sensory issues. If you are concerned about autism, you really need to start pushing to get the appropriate assessments (I'm not sure what those are, but I recommend you start with your pediatrician).

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Don't stress about this!!! My son didn't start talking until WELL into his second year, and he is absolutely "normal". My pedi seemed to be the only one concerned, but I just chalked it up to being a boy and a 3rd child who was babied.
They are just trying to be proactive if there COULD be a problem. Your son is probably a healthy little boy developing at his own pace.

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