Early intervention is a service provided to children under the age of three, designed to catch and begin treating any potential developmental delays early. Early intervention uses a holistic approach, whereby the professional meets with your family, your child, and others involved with his care. This ensures that the early interventionist gets the most accurate picture of what your child’s life, strengths, abilities, and challenges look like, so that she can create a plan that offers the best chance for your child’s future success. Early intervention programs are designed specifically for children from age birth through three years.

Who Needs Early Intervention?

Children who were born prematurely, were seriously ill or needed surgery as infants, or who have known disabilities, all can benefit from early intervention. In these cases, services might be initiated when your child is only a few months old. Sometimes delays become apparent when your baby or toddler is a little older. If you or your pediatrician notice that some important developmental milestones aren’t being met, you may be referred for early intervention services.

How Early Intervention Works

The early interventionist will spend some time observing and playing with your child, and will ask you questions about your child’s daily life and how you see his abilities and challenges. She’ll pay attention to how your child communicates, under what circumstances he seems most able to absorb and retain information, how he plays with toys and other children, how he interacts with other people and the world around him, and how he does with daily living skills such as feeding and toileting, if necessary and age-appropriate. After the initial assessment, the early interventionist will meet with the rest of the child’s care team to come up with ways that she can help your child develop the areas in which he shows a delay or deficit. This might involve things like referring him to different therapists, such as; a physical therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist, or visiting him at daycare or in your home to help facilitate appropriate play and socialization.