Early identification helps with special needs


By Sue Cody

Elizabeth Friedman ESDWhere do parents, caregivers and doctors turn if they have concerns about the development of a child?



In Oregon, that place is Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education (EI/EICSE). In Clatsop County, it is the Clatsop Service Center located in the Northwest Regional Education Service District (ESD) building in Astoria.



Elizabeth Friedman became the administrator and special education coordinator for the service center in July.



In college, one of Friedman’s teachers mentioned that not all children learn the same way. That statement piqued her interest and led her to a profession in special education. “I wanted to learn all I could,” she said.



She said she became a school psychologist, which wasn’t too surprising, because her father was a psychologist and her mother was a Montessori teacher.



Friedman worked 15 years with the Northwest Regional ESD in Washington County, then was employed by the Seaside School District for nine years. Her experience was working with school-age children, following a few with special needs to age 21.



Now she is concentrating on special needs children from birth to 5 years old. Children are screened by the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, a system that monitors growth and development.



“We evaluate children on their strengths and needs, then create an Individual Family Support Plan,” Friedman said.



Laura Germond, an assistant in the program handles the intake of referrals. From birth to 3 years old, special education professionals make home visits and work with parents to help promote development.



From 3 to 5 years old, the center works with Head Start and Early Childhood Special Education classrooms located at Capt. Robert Gray School and Seaside Heights Elementary. Friedman said there are 10 two-hour sessions a week, with three to 10 children per session. Class size and attendance varies with the needs of each child.



The Clatsop Service Center serves five school districts: Seaside, Astoria, Warrenton, Jewell and Knappa. There are two full-time speech and language pathologists, one early childhood educator/pathologist and three early childhood teachers. An occupational therapist and a physical therapist are also employed part time.



Friedman said she is happy to be immersed in early childhood education, especially working with Dan Gaffney and the P3 program and Paula Mills in the Early Learning Hub. Promoting partnerships with different agencies is important, she said.



“The earlier we identify when a kid needs support, the better we can support the family. The earlier we help, the better the outcome for all,” Friedman said.



For information and referrals, call the Clatsop Service Center at 503-338-3368.