When an infant or young child is diagnosed with a disability, the family's lives are changed forever. Confronting and living with the challenges brought about by disability requires families to draw upon strengths within themselves that they often did not think existed. Parents and families have to adjust to a life different than they imagined. The ability of the family to meet these challenges is determined, in large part, by the support that is available from other immediate family members, grandparents, relatives, friends and co-workers. Equally important are the supports and services that the family and child receive from the educational and other social service agencies.
Disability is often apparent at birth. An infant is diagnosed, usually by a physician, at the hospital. Some children are diagnosed later after they fail to meet certain developmental milestones. Thanks to advances in technology and greater understanding of disability, children with disabilities are being identified during their very early years and are able to get services much earlier in life.
Services for children with disabilities are mandated from birth to 21 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA requires that families be involved with the planning, development and implementation of services throughout a child's life.
Children with developmental delays or disabilities ages 0-3 are eligible for Early Intervention Services under the IDEA. Intervention is vital during this very early time. Learn more about early intervention and educating kids with disabilities.