Early intervention is a system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. Early intervention focuses on helping eligible babies and toddlers learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as:
physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems);
communication (talking, listening, understanding);
social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and
Self-help (eating, dressing).
Examples of early intervention services | If an infant or toddler has a disability or a developmental delay in one or more of these developmental areas, that child will likely be eligible for early intervention services. Those services will be tailored to meet the childs individual needs and may include:
Assistive technology (devices a child might need)
Audiology or hearing services
Speech and language services
Counseling and training for a family
Services may also be provided to address the needs and priorities of the childs family. Family-directed services are meant to help family members understand the special needs of their child and how to enhance his or her development.
Early intervention is intended for infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability. Eligibility is determined by evaluating the child (with parents consent) to see if the little one does, in fact, have a delay in development or a disability. Eligible children can receive early intervention services from birth through the third birthday (and sometimes beyond).
For some children, from birth | Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that early intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop. Often this is so for children who are diagnosed at birth with a specific condition or who experience significant prematurity, very low birth weight, illness, or surgery soon after being born. Even before heading home from the hospital, this childs parents may be given a referral to their local early intervention office.
For others, because of delays in development. Some children have a relatively routine entry into the world, but may develop more slowly than others, experience setbacks, or develop in ways that seem very different from other children. For these children, a visit with a developmental paediatrician and a thorough evaluation may lead to an early intervention referral.
Parents dont have to wait for a referral to early intervention, however. If youre concerned about your childs development, you may contact your local program directly and ask to have your child evaluated. That evaluation is provided free of charge. If youre not sure how to locate the early intervention program in your communitykeep reading. We give that information a bit further down the page.
However a child comes to be referred, evaluated, and determined eligible, early intervention services provide vital support so that children with developmental needs can thrive and grow.
If you think that your child is not developing at the same pace or in the same way as most children his or her age, it is often a good idea to talk first to your childs paediatrician. Explain your concerns. Tell the doctor what you have observed with your child. Your child may have a disability or a developmental delay, or he or she may be at risk of having a disability or delay.
You can also get in touch with your communitys early intervention program, and ask to have your little one evaluated to see if he or she has a developmental delay or disability. This evaluation is free of charge, wont hurt your child, and looks at his or her basic skills. Based on that evaluation, your child may be eligible for early intervention services, which will be designed to address your childs special needs or delays.