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Concerned about your child's development? Here are some first steps.

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Are you worried that your child has delays in talking, play or concerned around general behaviours? Here is a list of ideas, resources, professionals and strategies to help get you the support your need.


We all know that every child is unique and develops at their own rate. But what do you do if you are concerned that your child's development is far behind that of their peers? The world of early intervention can be overwhelming and confusing, but we are here to help!



 

Developmental Paediatricians


If you have concerns about your child's development, it is good to have a paediatrician who has expertise in developmental paediatrics (such as autism/ADHD) who checks in with your child every six to twelve months, to ensure their development is on track and the services you are engaging are working towards a common goal. If you think your child needs to see a paediatrician, visit your GP and discuss your concerns with them first. They will assess your child and make a referral to an appropriate paediatrician.


What is a paediatrician? A paediatrician is a doctor who specialises in the development of children, who can oversee your child’s development and therapies with their care team.


How do I make an appointment? A referral to a paediatrician can be either public or private. A public referral is made to a hospital outpatient clinic and you see the paediatrician on duty for that day. When you get the referral from your GP, call the hospital clinic and make an appointment. A private referral is made to a specific paediatrician – often a doctor of your choice. You need to call the paediatrician's rooms to make an appointment. You will see the same doctor each visit. Waitlists for services are lengthy at the moment. It’s important to let the admin team know that you’re really flexible with times. Once you get in with a service you can then have some more flexibility with negotiating a better time.


What does it cost? If you have a Medicare card, a visit to a paediatrician at a hospital outpatient clinic or at a community health centre does not cost you anything.

A private paediatrician's fees will vary and there is usually some cost to you, usually called 'out-of-pocket expenses'. When you make the appointment, you can ask how much it will cost and how much you will get back from Medicare.


Some recommendations for private paediatricians around the West include Dr Matthew How, Dr. Teresa Lazzaro, Dr. Lyndal Peake or there are also a lot of good paediatricians at Complete Children’s (you can read their bios online to see if they are a good fit). You can also visit the paediatric department at the Royal Children's Hospital or the Joan Kirner Women's and Children's Centre (Sunshine Hospital).

 

The National Disability Insurance Scheme


If your child has delays in more than one area, you may be eligible for funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS, which covers the cost of allied health professionals working with your child. See this link for milestones for each age.

How do I access the NDIS?

Under 7 years old: Your child do not need a diagnosis of any disability to access the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention. You can complete this form, through Brotherhood of St Laurence (The NDIS EI Partner) and they will be in contact with you to arrange a meeting to discuss your child’s needs. This part can be difficult, as there is a big focus on what your child CAN’T do, remember - you know what your child can do, we just need to know about the areas where they need extra support.

7 years or older: Your child will need a diagnosis of a disability which impacts them across multiple areas to receive NDIS funding. Unfortunately, at the moment, ADHD is not a disability that is covered by NDIS funding (although this will hopefully be different soon!). You can apply through this link, which will be your application to receive NDIS funding. You can ask your therapists for support with this process.


 

Services that can support your child


There are many allied health professionals who can support your child’s development. Typically, working in a multi-disciplinary (multiple allied health professionals) team is the best way to reach your child’s goals across multiple domains. It is important that the professionals involved in your child’s care have regular contact to discuss strategies, approaches and developmental progress. Some examples of professionals who might be involved are as follows.

Speech Pathologist

A speech pathologist/speech therapist supports development of…

  • Language (building sentences, telling a story, understanding instructions, answering questions)

  • Speech (pronouncing the sounds in words properly)

  • Feeding (picky eating, developing chewing skills, transitioning from bottle or breast milk to solids)

  • Social communication (hanging out in a group, co-operating with peers, sharing ideas, play)

  • Literacy (reading, spelling)

Some local speech pathologists:

Occupational Therapist

Dietician

Psychologist

Physiotherapist

Allied Health Assistant

Waitlists for services are lengthy at the moment. Once again, it’s important to let the admin team of the clinic know that you’re really flexible with times. Once you get in with a service you can then have some more flexibility with negotiating a better time.

 

Education Supports


If your child has additional needs, sending them to out of home care can be daunting. Out of home care is a great opportunity for children to develop their independence, ability to separate from parents as well as social, play and language skills that are learned through the zone of proximal development with peers. There are different ways your child can be supported in the childcare, kinder, and school environment if they have additional needs.

Childcare/Pre-School

In childcare, the inclusion support (IS) program provides support for eligible mainstream early childhood services to build their capacity and capability to include children with additional needs, alongside their typically developing peers, so all children have genuine opportunities to access, participate and achieve positive learning outcomes.

Kindergarten

Primary School

We encourage parents and education providers to be proactive in understanding and supporting your child with their additional needs. Your allied health professionals can also support with reports and strategy recommendations for environmental accomodations prior to childcare, kindergarten, or school entry as well as visits and consultation once your child begins.


Are you left with any more questions? Get in contact and we will do our best to support you with information and advice.

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