Enroll a Child in a Special Needs Program

Children with special needs and sensory impairments can enroll in educational programs.

State programs and services can assist you and your child with special needs from birth through school. These children with special needs include those who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), blind or visually impaired (BVI), or have cognitive and behavioral issues, such as autism and learning disabilities.

Staff at the public health and education programs will work with you and your child to access appropriate services, connect with doctors or specialists, and prepare for transition to school.

How Do I Get Support for my Child with Special Needs?

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    Get Screened

    Screening is the first step in identifying possible conditions your child may have. Your child can get screened at the hospital when they are born, by your primary care physician or doctor, or through a public health clinic.

    Most newborns are screened for certain conditions right after birth. These screenings include a hearing screening, blood screening, and Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) screening. If your newborn is identified as possibly having a condition, your hospital will refer your child to a specialist or a public health program. Learn more about the Georgia Newborn Screening Program.

    If you notice any possible conditions after birth at any age, contact your primary care provider or physician for a screening and a referral for specialist services. You can also find a public health clinic near you that provides screenings and referral services using the Georgia Maternal Child Health Coordinator Locator.

     
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    Get a Diagnosis

    Your child may require a diagnosis and referral from a specialist in order to be eligible for certain programs or services. Visit a specialist after your child’s screening in order to get further evaluation, a diagnosis, and treatment, if applicable. If your primary care physician or doctor did not refer you to a specialist, find a public health clinic near you using the Georgia Maternal Child Health Coordinator Locator.

     
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    Find a Program

    There are several statewide early intervention programs and educational services that support children with special needs. Staff will work with you and your child to access appropriate services, connect with doctors or specialists, and prepare for transition to school.

    • Babies Can't Wait

      Babies Can’t Wait (BCW) is a statewide early intervention program that offers a variety of coordinated services for infants and toddlers with special needs, from birth to age 3, and their families. This program is administered by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Learn more about Babies Can’t Wait.

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    • Georgia Parent Infant Network for Educational Services

      Georgia Parent Infant Network for Educational Services (Georgia PINES) is a statewide early intervention program for families of children from birth to age 5 with a diagnosed hearing loss and/or visual impairment. This program is administered by the Georgia Department of Education. Learn more about Georgia PINES.

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    • Georgia Mobile Audiology

      Georgia Mobile Audiology provides newborn hearing screening follow-up, diagnostic infant hearing evaluations, and referrals to audiologists for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Learn more about Georgia Mobile Audiology.

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    • Georgia Autism Initiative

      Georgia Autism Initiative is a statewide early intervention program that offers Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screenings, family coaching and support, transition planning from birth to 21 years of age for children with ASD and their families. This program is administered by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Learn more about the Georgia Autism Initiative.

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    Find a School

    Many children with special needs can find support within their school district. Some children may be eligible for and would better benefit from state schools with specialized curriculum. Work with your early intervention program staff to determine which option would work best for your child.

     
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    Next Steps

    Your school or education program may track your child’s progress over time. Keep a copy of their progress for your records.