Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Is Early Intervention?

Anonymous: I am worried about my child’s language development and was told by my pediatrician that he is going to refer for “Early Intervention”. What is this?

The early intervention concept was first created by the United States Congress in 1986 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It provides funding to all 50 states in the United States. States have different criteria for eligibility that depend on various factors. Children who qualify must be under 3 years of age and have a confirmed developmental delay, as defined by parameters the state established. Delay may be in one of the following areas of development: physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional and/or adaptive.
Early intervention offers a therapeutic and support services for the focus child and the family. The types of services include:
  • Family education
  • Counseling, home visits, and parent support groups
  • Service coordination
  • Nursing services
  • Nutrition services
  • Speech therapy
  • Audiology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Social work services
  • Vision services
  • Assistive technology devices and services
Some children with legitimate developmental delays do not qualify for services. This does not mean parents shouldn’t seek intervention or continue to raise concern—repeat assessments by EI leading to services on the 2nd or 3rd attempt are common.

If you are concerned about your child, be persistent in seeking support—professionals know an awful lot, but the smartest doctors and therapists will agree that parents’ know best.

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