Should I get Assess­ment ofNeed for my young son

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - PARENTING -

MY 3-year-old son has been di­ag­nosed with a se­vere speech dis­or­der. The ther­a­pist rec­om­mended that I ap­ply for an Assess­ment of Need, for him, to ex­plore other pos­si­ble de­lays. He strug­gles to com­mu­ni­cate in

ITHINK you should, very def­i­nitely, pur­sue an Assess­ment of Need (AoN). I also think you should seek this AoN from the HSE. This is not be­cause a pri­vate assess­ment won’t suf­fice, but depend­ing on where you live, it is un­likely that a pri­vate AoN will be as com­pre­hen­sive, or as in­te­grated with the ser­vices then avail­able to your son.

An Assess­ment of Need is pro­vided for, un­der the Dis­abil­ity Act 2005, to al­low any par­ent of a child un­der five, the op­por­tu­nity to get an assess­ment of the full range of your child’s needs as­so­ci­ated with what­ever you per­ceive to be his or her dis­abil­ity.

Your Speech and Lan­guage Ther­a­pist (SLT) has al­ready de­ter­mined that your son has a se­vere speech dis­or­der. She, it seems, feels that this may be only a part of a broader de­vel­op­men­tal dif­fi­culty that your son may have.

She may be cor­rect in her view, or it may be that your son’s dif­fi­cul­ties are re­stricted to his lan­guage de­vel­op­ment. Ei­ther way, a more com­pre­hen­sive assess­ment will give you a clearer pic­ture. preschool and has started to bite his nails and screech out dur­ing sto­ry­time. He also in­vades other chil­dren’s space and hit one child. At home his be­hav­iour is re­ally chal­leng­ing, and he can have huge tantrums, hit and kick. What are your thoughts on this Assess­ment of Need idea? Should I go pri­vately or wait for the HSE?

The process for ap­ply­ing is via the AoN of­fi­cer for your HSE area. When you make an ap­pli­ca­tion the AoN of­fi­cer must let you know whether the ap­pli­ca­tion for assess­ment is ac­cepted, or the grounds upon which it is be­ing re­jected.

In your case, I think it is highly likely that the AoN will be ap­proved. The AoN of­fi­cer should be able to give you a date for when the assess­ment will com­mence and this should be within three months of the date of ac­cep­tance.

The prac­ti­tion­ers then have a fur­ther three months within which they must carry out the assess­ment and de­ter­mine your son’s needs. Af­ter this, you will re­ceive an assess­ment re­port de­tail­ing what they per­ceive to be your child’s needs and the ser­vices that your son and fam­ily will re­quire to meet these needs.

It is in­cred­i­bly hard to think about our chil­dren hav­ing dis­abil­i­ties of some kind. Some­times we might be tempted to stick our heads in the sand, so to speak, and just hope that things will im­prove, or that their de­vel­op­ment will pick up pace.

How­ever, where chil­dren do have, or are likely to have, de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays, we are best to find out ex­actly what they are so that we can tar­get in­ter­ven­tion as soon as pos­si­ble. Early in­ter­ven­tion does give chil­dren the best op­por­tu­nity.

Your de­ci­sion to get a speech and lan­guage assess­ment was the first step in try­ing to un­der­stand your son’s needs. The more com­pre­hen­sive AoN is sim­ply the next step.

Any child with a com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fi­culty can strug­gle so­cially, as they may not be able to com­mu­ni­cate to oth­ers or, fully grasp what oth­ers are com­mu­ni­cat­ing to them. Fre­quently this leads to mas­sive frus­tra­tion for chil­dren and par­ents alike.

It may be that the chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour, that has been ob­vi­ous at home and is be­gin­ning to show it­self more in his preschool, may be linked to the com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fi­culty he has. Or it may be that he has other dif­fi­cul­ties too that are im­pact­ing on how he copes in your fam­ily and in other set­tings.

So, don’t de­lay in ap­ply­ing for the AoN and do fol­low it up with the HSE. While there will be a wait, no doubt, it is much more likely that any rec­om­men­da­tions aris­ing out of the assess­ment will be in­te­grated with the ser­vices that are avail­able lo­cally.

In the mean­time, pa­tience and warmth from your­selves and the preschool lead­ers, as well as con­tin­ued in­put with the SLT, is the best ap­proach while you await that assess­ment and the ex­panded in­for­ma­tion it might pro­vide.

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