Disability Services Pathfinder link http://raisingchildren.net.au/services_pathfinder/disability_services_pathfinder.html

Disability Services Pathfinder

Our interactive Pathfinder can help you find your way through services and support for your child with disability and for your whole family. You can use the Pathfinder to work out:

  • where to start with disability services
  • what to do to help your child
  • who to contact (and how)
  • how to plan for the future.
Before using the Disability Services Pathfinder, you might first want to read more about the services environment and how to choose intervention services. You can also watch our disability videos to hear parents’ stories about diagnosis, early intervention, starting school and getting support.

To get started, click the statement below that best sums up where you’re at now.

I'm worried my child might have a delay or disability

Finding out for sure: getting a diagnosis

Families who have a child with a developmental delay or disability agree that the sooner you get a diagnosis from a qualified professional, the better. The process you need to go through to find out whether your child has a delay or disability can seem complex, and it might take a while. Although children often get diagnosed in the early years, diagnosis can happen at any age. For some children, it’s possible to say exactly what condition or disability (or multiple disabilities) they have. For others, it’s a gradual process that takes many months or years. And for others, it might not be possible to say exactly what condition a child has, or the child might need further tests and observations in the future. The process of identifying a child’s disability or delay can vary a lot. The pathways shown here will help you. They break down the steps to diagnosis and explain them for you.

SEE THE PATH

While you're waiting: starting intervention

If you’re on a waiting list for a diagnostic assessment, it’s likely you will have already started some sort of therapy for your child. If this is the case for you, the simple message is – keep doing what you’re doing. If possible, do more. On the other hand, if you’re on a waiting list for diagnostic assessment and haven’t yet started any therapies, it’s a good idea to begin some as soon as possible.

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You and your family: help and support

Families often say that the time while they wait for their child to get a formal diagnosis of a developmental delay or disability is the worst of all. Families can go through a lot of deep anxiety, stress and fear of the unknown. Some families just know there is something wrong with their child but feel that no-one is listening to them. In other situations, relatives or friends might be saying that a child has problems, but the family thinks everything is fine. Whatever your situation, you can get help and support. You need and deserve it, regardless of what your child’s diagnosis says.

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My child has been diagnosed with a disability

Helping your child: finding early intervention

You’ll often hear that the best way to boost your child’s development is through good early intervention. And it is vital to start early intervention as soon as possible. But saying it and knowing it is the easy part. Getting started can often be harder. There are just so many early intervention options. It can be confusing to work out what’s available and practical for your family. Then you have to understand funding – is the service you’re interested in government-funded, part-funded or completely parent-funded? Confused? Don’t worry. Here are some pathways to help you understand what can seem like an early intervention maze.

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Helping your child: child care and early learning

Children with a developmental delay or disability can do really well when they have early learning opportunities. At preschool or child care, your child can learn to make friends and communicate through playing with children their own age. It’s best to work with your early intervention provider when you’re choosing child care. And then you can expect that your early intervention team and child care workers will talk about and work together on your child’s developmental goals every day.

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Helping your child: going to school

Starting school is an exciting time and a big step for any child. It’s also a huge step for families. Making your way through any kind of school system can be tricky, especially when the child with a disability is the oldest and school is a new experience for the whole family. There are different school options for children with a disability, so it’s a good idea to learn about them well before your child turns five. Your child’s early intervention staff can give you information and guidance. Part of supporting your child in school will mean working with education staff to work out the best way for your child to further develop her skills. You’ll be negotiating with staff and speaking up for your child. Disability-specific support groups are a good place to find out about doing this.

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Government assistance and financial support

Having a child with any sort of disability puts many families under financial pressure. One parent might need to stop work to care for the child. Therapies and resources can cost a lot. You might also have extra medical bills. Federal funding is available to help children with a disability get the early intervention they need. You can also get financial support and assistance from other sources.

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You and your family: help and support

Living with and caring for a young child with a disability is very rewarding – and sometimes challenging for all family members. Everyone goes through different feelings about disability becoming part of everyday family life. Although your child’s needs often become a big focus, it’s important to try to make sure that everyone in your family gets the support they need – including you.

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  • Last updated or reviewed 18-01-2013