We know that language development starts the moment we are born. But what happens if language is delayed? Or what if your child is diagnosed with down syndrome or autism? Early intervention services are there to help with just that and today we are going to learn a little more about why these services are so important.
What is Early Intervention?
Early Intervention (EI) is services provided to infants, toddlers and their families. These services are offered when a child has, or is at risk for, a development delay, disability, or health condition that may affect typical development and learning. The developmental areas covered by EI are:
- Cognitive development
- Communication development
- Physical development, including vision and hearing
- Social or emotional development
- Adaptive development
Early Intervention services can be provided by your county, however, most therapists, such as myself also work with the birth-three population.
Why is Early Intervention Important?
Over the last few years, most of my clients have come from the early intervention program in my county. I have seen first-hand the benefits of starting early, not only for the child, but the family as well.
Helping The Child
We know that there is lots of brain growth in the first few years of our life- most of our physical brain growth is actually complete by four years old (Thirty Million Words). This is a critical learning time for us!
I’ve heard many parents over the years ask why is it important to start now? Some have stories of family members that didn’t talk until they were 3 and that they don’t see why it is a big deal. For most kids that is true. In fact, 70-80% of late-talkers will catch up to their peers. However, that leaves 20-30% that won’t catch up! This can lead to further language and literacy issues as they enter school-age years. Starting early can help prevent these issues.
Helping The Family
The key component to early intervention services is family. As an SLP I might visit your child for 30-45 minutes 1-2 times per week. That’s not a lot of time! So in order to see the most benefits of therapy, parents should be involved in the process. We are here to coach you through incorporating your child’s goals into your daily routines.
Often times we are working on functional communication skills. Meaning, we are focusing on helping your child communicate their basic wants and needs. For example, if they want something to eat or drink, if they need help or if they want to play with something specific. By focusing on these core vocabulary words (eat, drink, more, help, play, etc) your child is able to communicate their basic wants and needs, grow their confidence and reduce frustration associated with not being able to communicate.
Getting Started With Early Intervention
Here are some resources if you are wanting to get started with early intervention. Note that If you are working directly with the early intervention program in your county, these services end at 3 years of age, however, most therapists provide the option of continuing services once your child ages out of the program.
- Early Intervention Programs by State
- North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program
- Children’s Developmental Services of Mecklenburg County
Still have questions? Send a message straight to my inbox or comment below!