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 services use a holistic approach, whereby the early-child intervention specialist 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.
North Carolina early intervention services programs, like those nationwide, are designed specifically for children from age birth through three years.
Who Needs Early Intervention Services?
Pediatric early intervention can benefit children:
- Who were born prematurely
- Who were seriously ill
- Who needed surgery as infants
- Who have known disabilities
In these cases, early intervention 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 do Early Intervention Services Work?
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.
This is a perfect time to address any questions you have prepared to ask your early-child intervention specialist. Something as simple as, “How did you become an early-child intervention specialist” can help you learn about your specialist’s qualifications and the entire process.
Your early intervention specialist will pay attention to:
- How your child communicates
- How and in what circumstances he is 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
- How he does with daily living skills such as feeding and toileting, if necessary and age-appropriate.
After the initial assessment that your child receives through the NC Infant Toddler Program at your local Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA), the early interventionist will meet with the rest of the child’s care team to learn 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 early child intervention specialized therapist, such as; a physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, or visiting him at daycare or in your home to help facilitate appropriate play and socialization.