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Why Is Early Childhood Intervention Needed?

Dec 17, 2020, 14:43 PM

Young child is actively looking at her toysEarly childhood intervention is a vital aspect of special education that involves infants and toddlers getting the help they need. Here is what it is and why it’s so important.

What is early intervention?

“Early intervention” is an umbrella term to describe the physical therapy, speech therapy, behavioral psychology and developmental psychology tactics used for babies and young children (typically under the age of three) with developmental delays to improve their developmental path and their ability to learn new skills. Developmental delays such as difficulties in communicating, eating, playing, walking or solving problems don’t have to become lifelong issues, especially with early development services, which are meant to provide help at a key time in the child’s life. These services might include everything from nutrition help to transportation services to hearing technology to speech and language therapy. Most states cover some aspect of an early intervention program. Parents and doctors should watch for important developmental delays and then get them the help they need, usually at no or low cost to the family.

Why is early intervention important?

Many states offer programs for early child intervention because it’s an effective way to help an important and vulnerable population of children before developmental delays are exacerbated, but here are some more specific ways in which it’s important:

Earlier is better.

According to the CDC, early intervention is “likely to be more effective when provided earlier in life rather than later.” The first three years of a child’s life involve a great deal of creating new neural connections, and many important, powerful connections are harder to change after that period. When parents check common milestones and catch issues early, it gives professionals opportunities to use better, more effective tools to change a child’s developmental path.

It positively impacts many aspects of development.

With early intervention, speech therapy and physical therapy can lead to the following positive outcomes, according to the US Department of Education:

  • Language and communication
  • Overall health
  • Cognitive development
  • Social/emotional development

It increases academic readiness.

By helping children reach important developmental milestones, early intervention also helps them become ready for school, as they’ll often be more comfortable with play, problem-solving, make-believe and interacting with peers.

Intervention services can provide important free or cheap support to families.

Often, depending on the state, a parent can ask, “Is there an intervention specialist near me?” and find local experts free of charge through the state’s early intervention program. Parents will have access to experts, resources and help.

It reduces the burden on communities.

Early intervention decreases the need for special education. It also reduces the economic burden that results from academic failure. It’s estimated by the US Department of Education that as many as 13 percent of all children under three have delays that would make them eligible for services and only 2.67 percent actually receive early intervention.

Catching issues early can prevent frustration and help to make learning fun for the child.

“Purposeful play” is often taught by an intervention specialist, which can be a lot more fun and less scary for a child than an academic setting with a lot of noise, teachers and new environments. A bad first experience with school, trouble engaging and difficulty understanding are all factors that can lead to a poor overall academic experience and harm the child’s long-term performance.

It’s important to make sure basic needs are met during this period.

Appropriate nutrition at the appropriate time is often an important aspect of a child’s development, but often parents don’t have the knowledge, money or help to find the right diet.

It can lead to the child having better relationships with peers.

Social learning is vital to school success, and social delays as well as behavioral problems can make it very hard to form friendships. Learning how to express oneself is entirely vital not only in the academic sense but the personal sense, as it can help to prevent alienation and further behavior problems like lashing out.

Who can work as an early childhood intervention specialist?

Those who hope to work in this field must have a relevant bachelor’s degree in a relevant field at minimum, while many will go on to obtain a master’s degree with a focus in special education. Most states have at least some licensure requirements, but it depends on which state you’re in.

Wondering how finds early childhood intervention jobs? Check out our current careers listings.

 

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