When my daughter was born, I felt like I was learning the ropes of motherhood all over again. I had been so focused on my son's development that I couldn't remember basics like - when is this baby supposed to be rolling? I just remembered when Shep had rolled, generally, and start to compare their milestones. After a month, I realized that Rory wasn't doing things at the time pace that Shep had picked them up. She seemed strong enough - so it was an issue of coordination and desire.
I asked my mom friends - when do I start getting worried about her development? And they all said: not right now. But, if you ever are, you can get free evaluations for developmental therapy.
Yes! Apparently, it's a nationwide program. Each state runs their own evaluation center - you can find contact info for each state's intervention center here.
Depending on the results of your child's evaluation, you may receive referrals to occupational or play therapy, speech therapy, or even physical therapy. Each of these therapies focuses on a different form of development and helps kids essentially build those muscles (literal and figurative).
Don't forget to call on this early! Under the IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - all kids under the age of three qualify for a free state-run evaluation. For kids over the age of three, contact your local public school system. The available resources shift once kids hit approximate school-age.
Another lifehack? If you're so lucky as to live near a university with a specific therapeutic department, you might be able to access free or discounted care. Much of the time these clinics involve students who are studying under teachers with doctorates in their field, so the level of care is excellent - even with newbies working with your kiddo.
Early intervention referrals, whether through your local school or through a state-run program, can help your kid qualify for occupational therapy if needed. This type of therapy can have HUGE benefits, especially if it's sought out early. OT helps patients who have sensory procession disorders, or issues with self-regulation. It's also beneficial for kids who struggle with gross motor skills and basic tasks like brushing teeth, using eating utensils, or doing jumping jacks.
According to Healthcare.Gov, families with don't qualify for Medicaid may still be eligible for a form of health insurance assistance called CHIP - Children's Health Insurance Program. Under this program, well visits to dentists and pediatricians are free. Other specialist visits or sick visits may involve copays, but won't exceed more than 5% of a family's income. Learn more about applying for this inway to healthcare for your young kids.
A few weeks after I had noticed that my daughter's development seemed to be slightly delayed, she started picking up new skills left and right. I breathed a sigh or relief, glad that I didn't need to seek out further help for her. In the future, if I'm ever concerned that one of my kids needs a bit more help, I am glad to know there are a few ways to access not just evaluations - but actual free healthcare for kids!