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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Early Identification and Intervention

The birth of a child is an exciting, life-changing event. A beautiful new baby comes to your house, family, and neighborhood. It is a time for celebration. Family members look at the new child and wonder: Will he be a football star, will she be a famous musician, will he discover the cure for cancer, will she become President of the United States?
But what happens when this new child has a disability? What if there are health problems? What if, as time goes by, it seems as if the child isn't learning and progressing as quickly or easily as other children?
In fact, there are many supports available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities. Services for very young children, from birth through age two, are called Early Intervention. Early intervention is an effective way to help children catch up or address specific developmental concerns as soon as possible in their lives. To learn more about these vital services, explore the topics below.

Broadly speaking, early intervention services are specialized health, educational, and therapeutic services designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers, from birth through age two, who have a developmental delay or disability, and their families. At the discretion of each State, services can also be provided to children who are considered to be at-risk of developing substantial delays if services are not provided.


Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that early intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop. Often this is so for children who are diagnosed at birth with a specific condition or who experience significant prematurity, very low birth weight, illness, or surgery soon after being born. Even before heading home from the hospital, this child’s parents may be given a referral to their local early intervention office.

Overview of Early Intervention


Some children have a relatively routine entry into the world, but may develop more slowly than others, experience set backs, or develop in ways that seem very different from other children. For these children, a visit with a developmental pediatrician and a thorough evaluation may lead to an early intervention referral, as well. However a child comes to be referred, assessed, and determined eligible—early intervention services provide vital support so that children with developmental needs can thrive and grow.

What areas of child development are Early Intervention services designed to address?

In a nutshell, early intervention is concerned with all the basic and brand new skills that babies 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); or,

self-help (eating, dressing).