What to do until your child is 3

Special education services start at age 3.

But there are things you can do before your child gets there!

The next sections tell you about EarlySteps, a program that may provide services to support your child and the family.

  • Read about that and about the special education process in the rest of this Guide. That way, you'll be ready!

  • Also look at our other Guide, What to Do If Your Child May Be Different? This will show you how to get your child tested for developmental conditions and explore government benefits that may help your family.

If you have medical evaluations to show that your child has a developmental disability, that can help your child to qualify for special education when they turn 3.

Click the box below to learn more:

Developmental Delay is when your child is not doing certain things that kids usually do at their age.

There are different kinds of development, and different milestones: things a child usually can do at a certain age.

Kids learn things at different ages, so there is a big range of what is "normal". But an evaluation can tell if your child may need some help to catch up.

Here are some examples of different kinds of milestones:

  • Physical things like holding up their head at 3 months old, or sitting up at 9 months.

  • Cognitive (thinking and learning) skills, like imitating a movement at 1 year old, or knowing some body parts at age 2.

  • Communication skills, like saying "ba-ba-ba-ba"at 9 months, or waving "bye-bye"at age 1.

  • Social and Emotional skills, like laughing at 6 months, or showing affection for caregivers at age 1.

Click here for more about Developmental Milestones. (It will open in a new tab on your computer.) You can look up what your child should be doing at a certain age.

You can also click on the link at the bottom of the page to download a 4-page fact sheet.

Source: CDC, U.S. Office of Special Education Programs