Young children with developmental delays are more successful in school and long-term when aided by early intervention programs. Whether the child’s delay is due to a genetic condition, premature birth or infections, early intervention can help your child progress at more age appropriate stages.
The first few years of a child’s life, mainly from birth through age three, are a critical time in your child’s development. According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), what happens during those formative years stays with a child for life. That is why it is so vital to watch your child for signs of developmental delay, and get him any help he may need.
If you think your child might have a developmental delay, which is classified as an ongoing major or minor delay in the process of development, you should first talk to your child’s pediatrician. Your child’s doctor can diagnosis your child, or refer you to the early intervention program. Each state has an early intervention program available to assist you. These programs are designed to help your child develop physically, cognitively, or socially in addition to any assistance they may need learning to self-help or communicate.
The early intervention program will provide you with a person who will act as your service coordinator through the process of evaluating and assessing your child. The goal is to discover your child’s strengths, delays, and difficulties in order to determine whether your child is eligible for early intervention services. A qualified group of professionals will work together to evaluate your child.
Once your child is evaluated, you will meet with the team of professionals to review the results and discuss your child’s progress and his eligibility for services. If your child is found to be eligible, he will be assessed on an ongoing basis. His progress in both his strengths and his needs will be tracked in order to ensure he receives the best help possible.
During this time, the team needs to see and review your child’s doctor reports, medical and developmental history, results of developmental tests and any additional information you have. They will also want to interview you, other family members and any other people who take care of your child.
An Individualized Family Service Plan will be written for your family. It is a document that outlines the services your child and your family are to receive. According to NICHCY, it must include certain information including your child’s present physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and adaptive developmental levels and needs; family information including any of your concerns; achievements expected of your child and family; the specific services you will be receiving; where the services will be provided; when they will be received; how long each session will last and whether they will be in a group or one-on-one; who will pay for the services; the name of the service coordinator; and the steps to transition your child out of early intervention and into another program.
Early intervention programs are available in each state in order to help you ensure the best possible future for your child. If you notice, your child is not reaching the milestones as well as other children his age, talk to your pediatrician to determine whether your child has a developmental delay or disability and begin the process of helping your child as soon as possible.