Early Intervention Services
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).
All kids develop at different rates, and not meeting milestones at the same time as other kids the same age is not always a reason to worry. For example, some babies start walking as early as 9 months, while others may not take their first steps for more than a year. Sometimes children who may appear to be lagging catch up on their own, but a child with a developmental disability, such as autism, will need therapeutic intervention to reach their best potential.
An evaluation is used to determine if your child has a disability and whether your child is eligible for early intervention services. An initial screening is a brief, informal checklist regarding your child and your concerns. This helps determine whether a more extensive evaluation or assessment is needed.
An assessment is the process of gathering information about how your child is developing, and then determining what kind of help might be needed. This information may come from doctor’s reports, results from developmental tests, and other important records.
No. Some families worry about participating in early intervention because they don’t want their child to be “labeled” when he or she enters school. But information about a child’s participation in early intervention is not shared with the elementary school.
Children receive services for different lengths of time, depending on what they need. Some children participate for a short time to address a temporary delay in development. Other children may require follow-up special education services once they enter school.