Q&A: Does My Very Active 2 Year Old Need Early Intervention?

My son is 26 months (the only child) and he recently started daycare 2 weeks ago. Prior to this, he stayed home with me or my mother when I went to work. My son speaks a lot of words, understands simple commands, and he does every thing on the separate skills checklist. He also knows everything off of the TV shows on Nick JR (before noggin). He turns off the light if I tell him to and he names familiar things to him. My son has a lot of energy. A typical day for him is playing, dancing, climbing, and short rest periods after meals; he takes no nap.
In school he doesn’t listen to the teachers and is extremely resistant when he is getting him pamper changed. He grabs a toy and goes to play by himself for about 6 minutes at a time. For these reasons he only goes 3 hours to adjust to the environment. His teacher approached me and said he should be evaluated by early intervention because he needs some one-on-one attention that can’t be given due to the ratio of teachers to children. But when I look up on early intervention, it mostly targets developmental delays, which his pediatrician and I feel he doesn’t. Should I still have him evaluated even if every checklist here and other websites says he’s up to speed?

It sounds like your son is very new to the day care environment and the fact you’re easing him into it with 3 hours per day is a great idea. Perhaps he is overly active and not listening because all the routines are new to him, and so is the idea of being in a group setting with structured activities since he is used to be home with either you or your mom. It is not unusual for 2 year old boys to be busy and active and perhaps he needs more adjustment time to learn to sit and attend for more structured play periods, as well as adjusting to diaper changes from new caregivers. He may need more than 2 weeks for this adjustment to take place. I would encourage you to speak again with his primary caregivers at day care and ask them specifically what their concerns are regarding your son’s behavior and/or activity level at day care and why they think a referral to early intervention might be helpful.

You can tell them that both you and your pediatrician do not feel he is exhibiting any developmental delays at this time and that he is exhibiting age appropriate skills on the several developmental checklists you mentioned. However, if the day care staff feel like an early intervention evaluation might benefit your son in his adjustment and success at day care then there is no harm in completing an evaluation. That way you can rule out right away if your son is showing any developmental delays and go from there in order to continue to make his transition to day care a success. As therapists we would rather complete an evaluation and say a child does not need our services than to wait until a child is older and say “why wasn’t this child referred before?”. I am sure since the day care suggested it, that they can give you the contact information for your local early intervention provider, but just in case, this is a link I found for your area: Medical & Health Research Association of NYC Inc: Early Intervention Service Coordination, 9004 161st Street, Jamaica, NY 11432-6103,(718) 206-1000.