Special Needs: Diagnosis and Referral – What you need to know

When children are diagnosed with special needs at a young age, often their parents are the first to suspect problems. They can ask their doctors for referrals to a local early intervention service. In Arizona, this program is known as AZEIP, Arizona Early Intervention Program. From assessments done by those contracted through the state, the child is evaluated to determine eligibility. AZEIP’s eligibility is a 50% delay in one area, while the Division of Developmental Disabilities, DDD, is 25% delay in two areas. Children are reevaluated for special needs to enter federally funded long-term care and to enter into the school district.


If a child is not referred at a young age to AZEIP, they can be referred later by a peer, parents, teachers, principal, psychologist, self, and/or other. School district eligibility is individualized, but is often a collaboration of report, test performance, and independent evaluations. Once eligibility occurs, Individualized Education Plan, IEP, is made to clarify the child’s goals and those whom will be working with the child to reach these goals.

It is a slow process going from suspecting an issue to receiving services, so start on it as soon as possible. This process can include data collection or simply keeping track of a child over time. Waiting lists to get in to see doctors, find someone to service you, get an individual to look at your child. The process include multiple professionals and sometimes multiple company. This can simply mean more time and frustration by the parent/caregiver/individual in order to cut through all the red tape and get the services/help that is needed for the specific special needs.

It is important to find someone that will listen to you if you suspect a problem. Developmental Pediatricians specialize in children with special needs and can help give you insight to your child.

For More Information on Developmental Milestones, check out this related article:

Is My Child Different

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