Educational support services

If your child has a developmental delay, or another kind of disability, they will be likely to qualify for support services from the school system.

These may be called Special Education or Exceptional Student Services (ESS).

These services start at age 3.  You don't have to wait until kindergarten!

Image of an exclamation markDon't be scared by the term Special Education! It only means that your child will get special services to help them learn in school. It does not mean they are any less smart than others, just that they need some support at this time.



Special education can offer your child at-home therapy, access to special pre-school programs, playgroups, and specialized instruction.

Click on the box below to learn more about the kinds of therapy:

There are many different types of therapy that can help children with developmental delays.

They can work on different parts of their development.

Here are some of the most common examples:

  • Behavioral Therapy - A therapist helps to encourage positive behaviors and discourage unwanted ones. Desired behaviors are broken down into small tasks to build skills.

  • Developmental Therapy - A therapist uses relationship and the child's interests to build the areas of development that a child needs help with. These include things like relating and communicating or logical thinking.

  • Speech and Language Therapy — A therapist (sometimes called an SLP, or Speech and Language Pathologist) helps with communication skills at all levels.  These include talking, understanding others, and also non-verbal ways to communicate.

  • Physical Therapy (PT) — A therapist works with your child to improve muscle strength, coordination, and movement.

  • Occupational Therapy (OT) — A therapist uses movement to help your child to develop the motor, cognitive and emotional skills they need for the things they do. A child's "occupations" include play, self-care (like eating and dressing), social engagement, and eventually academic activities like writing.

    • Sensory Integration - This is a part of OT where kids learn to experience and process sensory information (sounds, tastes, touch, etc.) in a way that doesn't upset them.

Any of these may be helpful to your child. It depends on their unique mix of challenges and strengths.

Source: Source: Autism Research Institute

Here's what you can do:

  • Talk to your child's teacher, or the principal at their school.

  • Tell them you are concerned about your child and want to talk about special education services.

  • Ask for a pupil appraisal. This is a series of tests the school can do to see if your child has any kind of delay or learning disability. The school is required by law to give any child a free evaluation (as long as they are 3 or older).

See our other Guide to learn about the whole process: Special Education Services

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Every child
 has a right to a free public education that meets their unique needs. It's the law.  


Sources: LA DOE, Center for Parent Information and Resources