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What is Early Intervention?

Early intervention involves remedial or preventative therapy for young children at risk for or who have a condition that may adversely affect their development.  Early intervention usually is focused on children between birth to three years of age.  Research has found that earlier detection and facilitation of developmental disorders will increase the likelihood of a good developmental outcome for young children.

There are several focuses of early intervention including the child alone or the whole family depending on your goals and stated needs.  Intervention services may be performed at home, in a clinic, hospital, or both. Children qualify for early intervention services if they demonstrate delay in cognitive, motor, socio-emotional, communicative, or self-help functions.  They may also qualify if they have a medically-diagnosed condition with a high probability for delay, atypical developmental patterns from peers, or are at risk for developmental delay. After identification, the intervention process begins to help children achieve age appropriate developmental milestones.

Why is Early Intervention Important?

Early intervention services are important because they have positive effects on  the lives of parents and their children.  The family of a child with special needs is often faced with feelings that are hard to cope with such as helplessness and disappointment.   The stress of the family's feelings may have significant effects on the child's development.  Family-centered intervention plays a key role in handling all of these aspects.  

Early intervention can help parents by providing extra support.  Parents then are more likely to be better equipped with techniques or skills for helping their child, better feelings about their family situation, and increased time for themselves.

Another reason for intervening early is to maximize developmental outcomes for the child, the family, as well as society as a whole. With increased skills to think and act independently, the child has less need to rely on social institutions and the family is better equipped to facilitate the childs development.  (, 2002)

Date accessed:  February 15, 2004
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