Does my Child Need Help? Who do I Call?

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Does my child need help?  Who do I call?  Where do I go?  Making that first decision is one of the hardest to make.  Trying to figure out who to call or where to go can be equally challenging.  Information about these questions is found below.


I have 3 kids, and at 3 different times I had to ask myself these questions.  Each child was also at a different age when we sought out help.  The catalyst that caused me to ask the first question “Does my child need help?” also all came from a different direction.  Where I went for each child was different based on their age and their need.  But here is what we learned.

My oldest son began to have problems at daycare when he was 4.  We had moved houses, I had changed jobs and later, we changed our daycare.  This transition was very hard on him and he began to act out daily.  Finally, we reached a point where the daycare staff said, “Get him help or he is kicked out.”

My youngest son was 2 when I took him to the Pediatrician for his well visit.  I didn’t think anything was wrong, things were very CHALLENGING with him, though.  Also, I hadn’t even realized at that time he had stopped talking.  The Pediatrician did her assessment, and based on his sleep, eating, behavior, habits she recommended I seek help for him, which I did.  He was eventually diagnosed with Autism.

My daughter was 8 when I sought help for her.  She has had a multitude of sensory issues her whole life.  She has had a multitude of social problems that were increasing as she ages.  Over the school year the issues abounded to the point she had to meet with the guidance counselor weekly.  To help continuity I decided to seek help for her over the summer.  She was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.

Maybe someone told you to get your child help.  Maybe someone recommended you get your child help.  Maybe you feel your child needs help.  Who do you call?  Where do you go?


Hopefully your child’s Pediatrician gave you a referral.  If not, you can always talk with them about your concerns and they can give a you one.  If the catalyst for help comes from another source, remember age is a huge factor in who you call.  If your child is 2 years old or younger you call for Early Intervention services.  If you would like the number to call for your area, check this map here.  If your child is 3 years old or older you would call your local public school system.  The CDC has a lot of information on milestones and referrals, which is found here.

Here are some early warning signs you might need help for you 3-5 year old (this info is from my youngest sons Intermediate Unit Special Education Website):

Your child may have trouble SEEING if he or she:

  • is often unable to find and pick up small objects
  • often rubs his or her eyes or complains that they hurt
  • holds his or her head in a strained or awkward position (tilts head to either side – thrusts head forward or backward) when trying to look at a particular person or object

Your child may have trouble TALKING if he or she:

  • cannot say “mama” and “dada” by age 1
  • cannot say the names of a few toys and people by age 2
  • is not talking in three or four word sentences by age 3
  • is not understood by people outside the family by age 4
  • does not make up a short story and tell it by age 5

Your child may have trouble PLAYING if he or she:

  • does not play games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake” or wave “bye-bye” by age 1
  • does not imitate parents doing routine household chores by age 2 to 3
  • does not enjoy playing alone with toys, pots, and pans by age 3
  • does not play group games such as hide-and-seek, tag, or ball with other children by age 4
  • does not share and take turns by age 5

Your child may have trouble THINKING if he or she:

  • does not react to his/her name when called by age 1
  • is unable to name hair, eyes, ears, nose and mouth by pointing to them by age 2
  • does not understand simple stories by age 3
  • does not give reasonable answers to such questions as “What do you do when you are sleepy?” or “What do you do when you are hungry?” by age 4
  • does not understand the meaning of the words “today,” “tomorrow,” “yesterday” by age 5

Your child may have trouble HEARING if he or she:

  • does not turn to face the source of strange sounds or voices by 6 months of age
  • talks in a very loud or very soft voice
  • does not respond if you call from another room
  • turns the same ear toward a sound he or she wishes to hear

Your child may have trouble MOVING if he or she:

  • is unable to sit up without support by age 1
  • cannot walk without help by age 2
  • does not walk up and down steps by age 3
  • is unable to balance on one foot for a short time by age 4
  • cannot throw a ball overhand and catch a large ball bounced by age 5


Lastly, for my 8-year-old daughter, I wanted to give her continuity of care.  She had a rough school year.  During the school year she needed a lot of supports to help her socially and her academics began to slip.  She was having a hard timing coping with many issues.  She needed help.  Once school let out she was on her own.  What could I do to help her with her school year next year?

I turned our family’s health insurance card over and looked for who to call her Behavioral Health Issues.  I was referred to a local behavioral health center who I called and arranged an appointment for my daughter.  She was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism and will meet with a therapist weekly for individual therapy sessions.

Maybe you have alternate concerns.  As a parent you know your child has special needs and/or a disability that requires more attention than the county, school or private practice can offer.  Or maybe they can help and you just cannot find your resource.  The Center for Parent Information and Resources is a great tool to offer you information and direction.  To find parent information and resources in your state, click on your state in the map provided here.

Making the decision to get your child help and evaluated is a big decision.   Trying to figure out who to call or where to go can be equally challenging.  Based on your child’s age you would reach out to Early Intervention, you Public School system, your private insurance company or your child’s Pediatrician.  Thankfully, there are many services available out there to help you and your child.