What is early intervention?
Early intervention refers to a range of services to help children 0-3 years of age who have developmental delays or specific health conditions. This may include speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. Services may be provided through a variety of sources, including Ohio’s statewide program called Ohio Early Intervention (Help Me Grow).
Why start so early?
Early intervention is important for the following reasons:
- Neural circuits are most flexible or “plastic” during the first 3 years of life.
- Over time, they become increasingly difficult to change.
- Studies found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) make the most changes in their language development before they are 6 years old.
- Studies show that children who acquire language/social skills earlier have better overall outcomes than those who acquire skills later.
- Services often provide caregiver training, such as giving strategies/techniques/ideas to use at home
- Parents are with their children more hours/week than any therapist – they can implement techniques from therapy services into everyday life
- Increased carryover of skills for the child
Overall, intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later.
What should I do?
- Seek help if you are concerned – If a child’s speech/language or other skills are behind, seek out an evaluation as soon as possible to determine if help is needed.
- Encourage others to seek help if they are concerned – Whether a relative, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance, encourage others who have voiced concerns to also seek out an evaluation.
The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. (2011). The Importance of Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and their Families.
Lowry, Lauren. The Hanen Centre. (2016). New information about why early intervention is key for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.