Early Childhood Intervention – Types and Benefits

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A doctor examining an infant

Not all children are fortunate enough to be born in healthy and develop like others. Some of them do suffer from various behavioural and developmental disorders which can even manifest in the form of disabilities. Undertaking early intervention for autism or Down syndrome or any other disorders can be quite helpful for such children and can give them the support they need to move ahead in life.

What is Early Intervention?

In the most literal meaning, the term ‘early intervention’ means exactly what the words say. Taking care of your child’s issues and addressing his needs as quickly as possible.

There are various services that provide early intervention and work towards supporting your child in the initial phases of development. These range from providing education in a specific way, counselling, therapy, or even as simple as child care. All these services are at your behest and can be opted for privately or even in a communal manner that brings kids with similar needs together.

When does a Child Need Early Intervention Therapy?

The right early intervention age for a child differs from the kind of intervention he requires. Most of the times, when doctors recognise a defective gene or a chromosome that has the tendency to cause a disability, they may recommend the right time to carry out the intervention.

At times, as your child grows, certain behavioural tendencies can make you aware of the presence of a disability. These usually range from delaying in crawling, using limbs and making different sounds, learning to walk, handling objects, and learning a few words. There are general timelines for each of these milestone markers, and if you think your child is lagging behind substantially in them, you might require to undertake early intervention.

What are the Various Therapies and Services Included Under Early Intervention?

A doctor examining a little girl

The types of early intervention therapies and services are differentiated based on the aspect of development or growth they are meant to target and support. These are usually aimed towards a specific set of skills such as:

1. Physical

Intervention activities in this subset are meant for kids that have issues with physical movements such as reaching out for objects, delays in crawling and walking, difficulty holding objects and so on.

2. Sensory

At times, there are issues with a particular sensory perception within a child that makes it difficult for him to perceive either sight, sound, smell or any of the other senses. This makes it necessary to cultivate a range of activities that help him develop those or provide support for it.

3. Cognitive

Certain disabilities manifest within the brain and cannot be immediately visible until the child is a few years old. These include an inability to use cognitive skills that are necessary to understand problems, instructions, and execute them by making use of thought and logic. Most kids pick these up later in life while some continue to have issues throughout.

4. Social

Disorders like autism or severe social anxiety begin to emerge only when the child is introduced into an environment where he has to interact with other people. Activities are then created to help him play with other children in a gradual manner and learn different ways of interaction that can benefit himself and the kids.

5. Communication

Most children tend to handle many skills themselves but face an obstacle when it comes to knowing the basics of communication. Such kids need support in being able to listen to and process instructions correctly, express and talk with the right words and form sentences correctly, or even paying attention.

6. Self

There are certain actions and tasks that a child needs to learn to do by himself. These range from taking a bath, to wearing clothes or shoes, to cleaning himself after using the toilet. Children who face issues with these need private intervention and examining the struggles they face while carrying out the activity.

How can Early Childhood Intervention Programs Help Parents?

The benefits of early intervention are not purely restricted to the children. These can help parents of the children in multiple ways as well.

Taking care of a special child is a bit of a challenge. Experiencing your child in the midst of the intervention brings you face to face with what you have to take care of. This becomes a major marker for your parenting skills and helps you get an idea of what you will have to monitor. Right from evaluations, to understanding medical conditions, all of these play a pivotal role in checking your child’s progress. These might seem temporary for now but they keep evolving as your child grows up and enter different stages of education, bringing forth a new set of challenges. What seems simple and low-value for now could suddenly be the key to unlocking an important issue.

Early intervention helps you establish communication with the responsible person as well as connect with families with similar challenges. These together can help you combat your own stresses and anxieties with the situation as well. Like your child, you, too, would need a new set of skills to handle the challenges that come your way.

What if there is a Delay in Early Intervention for your Child?

Early childhood intervention speech therapy and a number of other exercises can be quite helpful in resolving various issues quite early in life. However, if your child is already grown up or more than 3 years old, it doesn’t mean that the time has passed.

Various schools or private organizations can work with your child in devising a specialized programme to address the needs of your kid and work in tandem with his current challenges. The early years are always beneficial in this regard.

How to Find the Early Intervention Services?

Talk to your child’s doctor for he would be the best person to give you a personal recommendation based on your child’s needs. Certain government organizations or NGOs can help you out in this regard as well. A simple Google search could establish a good starting point, too.

The importance of early intervention in children with disabilities cannot be stressed enough. The earlier it takes place, the easier it is for your child to come to terms with the challenges. Nevertheless, no time is too late and it is better to take action than to wonder if it is the right time or not to benefit your child.

Also Read:

Early Childhood Education – Importance & Benefits
Fine and Gross Motor Skills – Childhood Development
Importance of Play in Your Child’s Development

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