What exactly is Early Intervention?
What should I expect with Early Intervention?
Reviewed & Edited by: M. Rebecca DiLettuso, MSW, Executive Director
Has your health care provider suggested Early Intervention for your child? What exactly is Early Intervention? What happens during Early Intervention? How will it help my child? How long will it take to make a difference?
As an Early Intervention provider, teli often receives requests and calls from parents with these exact questions about Early Intervention. They are concerned about their child and possible developmental delays and they are calling for information because their health care provider has suggested Early Intervention. We know it is a bit scary for parents, but we are here to help and calm your fears and most importantly help your child achieve their developmental goals. So, let’s dive into those questions.
What exactly is Early Intervention?
Early Intervention is a routine based system of coordinated services including Physical, Speech and/or Occupational therapies as well as nutrition, vision, hearing and developmental services that promote a child’s age-appropriate growth and development, supporting families during the critical years between birth and three years of age.
teli was one of the first agencies in the Pittsburgh area to provide these services through federal funds authorized by Congress in 1986 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Funding was approved as “an urgent and substantial need” to minimize developmental delays while enhancing the lives of infants and toddlers by providing therapeutic intervention during the first three years of life. Importantly EVERYONE is eligible for these services.
What happens during Early Intervention?
Initially an assessment of your child will take place by an independent evaluator to determine if services are recommended. Dependent on your child’s needs, one or more therapies or services will be coordinated and provided in your home or at another convenient setting such as daycare or grandma’s house. These therapies may include:
- Physical therapy if there are concerns in the areas of gross or fine motor skills or movement
- Speech therapy if sound and or language formation is of concern.
- Occupational therapy to help with feeding as well as sensory issues.
- Development instruction to help with behavioral concerns
- Social services to support the family
- Hearing, Vision and Nutrition Services to address associated issues
These professionals have had extensive experience in helping children through the use of various activities that may look like “playing” with your child. In fact, they are! A child’s work is play. Therapists work with you and your child to provide activities and suggestions that you can repeat between therapy sessions to help your child address development challenges. The frequency and length of therapy session will vary based on the needs of your child.
How will Early Intervention help my child?
Early Intervention helps your child make the most of learning through play. Purposeful play is essential to brain development, particularly during the first three years of life. If your child appears not to be meeting developmental milestones, getting support early is essential. Opportunities for play with a caregiver and an Early Intervention specialist can facilitate the development of the skills needed for problem-solving, self-control, socialization and communication. Building the foundation for these skills is so necessary as a child enters school and adulthood.
How long will it take for Early Intervention to make a difference?
The length of time a child receives Early Intervention Service is very individualized. Dependent on the nature and degree of the child’s developmental delay, one or more therapies may be required over time. When a service coordinator meets with you and your child for the first time, you will work together to establish goals and a schedule that meets your family’s needs. As your child progresses, your therapist will have a better sense of the length of time your child might need in Early Intervention based on their extensive experience with similar children. Check out our Success Stories for a perspective on the goals that our clients have achieved through teli’s Early Intervention Services.
When will my child catch up?
Again, every child is different. However, accessing Early Intervention supports and services early may help your child catch up more quickly. Some children reach their unique goals sooner than others. Your patience as well as perseverance with your child’s Early Intervention activities as guided by your therapist is vital. Our experience at teli indicates that with encouragement and practice, each child can reach their true potential.