Early Intervention services are crucial to the healthy development of children with disabilities such as AMC. Over the years, early intervention services have proven to be vital to the healthy development of infants and toddlers with AMC, minimizing their potential for developmental delay. With early intervention, a child can decrease the extent of delay relative to their peers. Services may include occupational therapy (OT) to improve upper extremities (fine motor skills), physical therapy (PT) to improve lower extremities (gross motor skills), and speech therapy (ST) to help children learn to eat, speak, and improve oral motor skills. Service Coordination through a local agency (e.g., Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities , and Department of Education) is provided as well. Some states also offer developmental therapy (DT) provided by an Educational Specialist or Developmental Therapist who can track general developmental progress and work on pre-academic skills. Most early intervention services take place in the child's Natural Environment; this could be the child's home, daycare facility, or babysitter. Parks and other community facilities are also considered part of the child's natural environment.
Early Intervention services are crucial to the healthy development of children with disabilities. Through the years, early intervention services have proven to be vital to the healthy development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, minimizing their potential for developmental delay. With early intervention, the child will decrease the range of delay when compared to their peers. Early intervention helps to reduce the need for special education and related services once the children reach school age. This lowers the educational cost to local schools.
If a child is determined through a Multi Factored Evaluation* (MFE) to have a developmental delay, the EI program works with the family to develop an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP).
*A MFE assesses a child's development in all or some of the following areas: fine and gross motor, speech, cognitive abilities, adaptive skills, and social skills.
The IFSP is a written document developed by a team of individuals including the child's parents and representatives from the state's early intervention program (OT, PT, ST, DT, service coordinators etc.).
The IFSP includes statements about:
• The infant/toddler's presenting levels of performance based on objective criteria;
• The family's resources, priorities and concerns regarding the development of the child;
• Measurable goals the child is expected to achieve as a result of receiving services; how these goals will be measured, timelines for achievement and methods to modify goals as needed;
• The specific services needed to meet the individual child and family's needs clearly stating: frequency, minutes per week/month and delivery method;
• The natural environment where services will be provided, or the reasons why services will not be provided in a natural environment;
• The dates for start of services and the length of services;
• The service coordinator that will be responsible for implementation of the IFSP and coordination with other agencies and persons; and
• Steps necessary to support the child's transition to preschool or other appropriate services when appropriate
Congress created the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities to help families whose children have special needs. This program is under the umbrella of IDEA and is Titled: Part C. If you feel that your child has a developmental delay, ask your pediatrician about your state's EI services. Some pediatricians want to wait until children are six months old before referral, if this occurs, you may need to initiate the process yourself. Each state runs their program a little differently, so calling the state coordinator's office would be a good place to start.
The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center offers links to each state's Part C Coordinators. Each state's office should be able to direct you to your local coordinator.
Click on Part C and then select your state.