Therapies for Children with Down Syndrome and How to Pay for Them
If you’ve recently learned that your child has or will have Down syndrome, there are many steps you can take to give her or him a happy, healthy, and rewarding life. And with early intervention, there are many therapies that can have a positive impact. Even if your family is struggling financially, you may be eligible to receive benefits so you can provide these therapies for your child with Down syndrome and pay for them without any financial stress.
Federal law requires that your state offers free public education for your child with Down syndrome as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).This includes programs that provide various types of therapies your child may need that have been proven beneficial — including occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. They’re available and should be started any time after birth until your child turns 3, or until your child is eligible to enter Kindergarten.
The options that are available depend on the state you live in though. Some states put a limit on how many therapist visits are allowed before your child with Down syndrome will need to use private insurance for coverage.
Additionally, your child may be eligible for an Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP, which includes a team of teachers, caregivers, a school psychologist, and you working together to meet specific learning goals for your child.
Some schools, for instance, may have a special classroom for the children with difficulties, while others may integrate them into the typical classroom.
Continuing or adding a combination of some or all of the following therapies can be helpful in early intervention programs throughout your child’s lifetime if he or she has Down syndrome:
- Physical Therapy The goals of physical therapy are to help build motor skills, increase muscle strength, and improve posture and balance. In children with Down syndrome this is important because a common characteristic of the disorder is low muscle tone, which if unaddressed can lead to long-term problems.
- Speech-Language Therapy This type of therapy focuses on communication and language skills.
- Occupational Therapy This type of therapy focuses on finding ways for individuals to compensate for their disabilities to manage everyday tasks.
- Emotional and Behavioral Therapies These services help individuals manage behavioral problems, such as compulsive disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other mental health issues.
Receiving funding for therapies not covered by the school system and insurance is crucial for your child. In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is a program in California that provides payment to you as the caregiver for your child.
It can help you financially to stay home and take care of your child with Down syndrome—so you can go to all the doctor appointments and therapies, you personally can supervise the services, and you can monitor what your child receives.
Eligibility for IHSS
If you are a California resident and receive Medi-Cal benefits, you may be eligible for IHSS. Eligibility is assessed with an evaluation regarding whether your child needs the services it provides to stay safely in your own home as an alternative to out-of-home placement.
How to apply for IHSS
You must complete an IHSS application. As part of the application process, there are many pieces of documentation that will need to be submitted accurately, such as a medical certification form and similar forms.
Once IHSS receives your application, a caseworker will be assigned to conduct a needs assessment. During the needs assessment, the caseworker will come into your home and ask you questions about your child with Down syndrome’s physical and mental capacity in order to determine what he or she can and cannot do. Your living situation will also be evaluated. After the needs assessment, the IHSS caseworker will contact you and let you know if you have been approved or denied the service.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
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