Much has been written about the importance of a child’s first five years of life. What a baby does and experiences during these early years gives him/her a foundation upon which later skills are developed.
That’s why it’s so important to identify which babies can benefit from early intervention. It’s important to remember that if your child is eligible for early intervention, you will receive these services at no charge.
What is Early Intervention?
Sometimes babies are born with a condition or special need that can affect their development. Other times a condition is not apparent at birth so over time, the parents or doctors begin to wonder if the child is developing appropriately.
In either situation, a child’s developmental abilities are evaluated. Once evaluated, the child is eligible to receive the therapy or other types of early intervention he/she needs and the family can get the support and education they need.
Early intervention means finding the specific ways to help a child become as functional as possible. In some situations, the therapy a child receives at an early age enables that child to reach developmental milestones on target or close to target. In other words, early intervention can sometimes help a child catch up to peers.
Early Intervention Helps a Child with Major Developmental Areas
- Physical development a child’s ability to move, see and hear
- Language and speech development a child’s ability to talk and communicate
- Social and emotional development a child’s ability to play, interact and relate to others
- Adaptive development a child’s ability to handle self-care functions, such as feeding and dressing
- Cognitive development a child’s ability to think and learn
Typical Support and Services That Are Considered Early Intervention
If its determined that early intervention can help your child, they will have access to the following specialists, depending on the condition:
- Developmental teachers
- Occupational therapists
- Physical therapists
- Speech and language pathologist/audiologists
- Vision consultants
- Hearing consultants
Family Involvement a Vital Element of Early Intervention Success
While the therapists and other specialists who work with your child are considered experts in their fields, they are not the most important element of early intervention. The most important element is the parents.
When parents practice the techniques taught in therapy at home, it aids in the child’s ability to improve. On the other hand, studies have shown that when parents are not involved, therapy takes longer and the child has to work harder.
Helping your child develop an optimistic outlook can be one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child.