The Most Critical Years
According to research, learning and development are at their highest rate in the preschool years. Some children, due to conditions noticed at birth, special needs, or developmental delays which occur in the early years, risk missing some of the most important learning and developmental milestones. Early intervention helps keep these children on a path to making the most of abilities and skills developed during the early years.
Early intervention services also support the parents and siblings of children with special needs. Families often experience frustration, stress, disappointment, and helplessness. This can both impact the well-being of the family and further affect the development of the special needs child. Early intervention helps build a nurturing and supportive environment for the entire family.
Early intervention is forward looking, even into adulthood. It has been shown that EI therapies do far more than provide for immediate benefits during the developmental years. They significantly increase the child’s ability to integrate in future social environments, including school, community, and ultimately employment.
Developmental Delays and Disabilities
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities affect 1 in 7 children in the United States, or about 15%.
As a child grows, they develop new physical, cognitive, and social skills at every age. From smiling and paying attention to faces at two months to playing make believe and dressing themselves by three years of age, a host of milestones have been identified that help parents know whether their children are on the right path.
For milestone examples, visit the CDC’s page on Developmental Milestones, which also features a printable milestone checklist.
When Should You be Concerned?
While every child is an individual and develops at their own pace, there are known periods or “windows” during which most children achieve certain milestones.
As a parent, you notice everything, from when your baby supports her head on her own to the first time she reaches and grasps for toys. There’s crawling and babbling, pointing and throwing. When you have a sense that things are not developing as they should, or that certain milestones may have been missed, it’s time to talk to your child’s doctor or pediatrician.
Early intervention is a set of services designed to help babies and toddlers who may be experiencing developmental delays or disabilities. Early Intervention provides eligible babies and toddlers with help in acquiring skills that typically develop during the first three years of life. These include:
- Physical skills like reaching, crawling, and walking
- Social skills such as playing and interacting with others
- Communication skills including listening, understanding, and talking
- Problem solving and cognitive skills, including learning
- Self help skills like eating and dressing without help
Developmental delays may occur in one or more areas, making a child eligible for services tailored to meet the individual needs and priorities of the child and their family.
Explain your concerns to your pediatrician or get in touch with your community’s early intervention program. Ask to have your child evaluated to see if they do have a developmental delay or disability. This evaluation is a free, low stress look at your child’s basic skills and development.
Why is Early Intervention Important?
Early Intervention services cover a wide range of special needs assistance. These include speech and language services, medical and nursing assistance, nutrition services, occupational and physical therapy, psychological services and more.
Early intervention services are available in every state and territory of the United States. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires it as Part C of IDEA.
In Pennsylvania, Early intervention is free to all families. Other states may have sliding scales of payment or require co-pays.
Early intervention services are important to improving a child’s development, both in how they directly impact the child and how they benefit the family by strengthening and empowering a nurturing environment.
Would you like to learn more about how Early Intervention can help your child? Call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or Text INFO to 412-543-8398 During Regular Business Hours (8:00 am to 4:00 pm, M-F).