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Before my son was diagnosed with autism, we were told by many people not to worry about the delays we were seeing. We had family members, friends, and even doctors tell us things like, “That’s normal” or “My child does that too.” But in my heart of hearts, I knew it wasn’t normal. This is why I am a very strong advocate for early intervention.
I have a feeling many people still think I’m crazy when it comes to this topic, but I stand by my beliefs because I have seen first-hand with both my children how early intervention can change a child’s life.
What is Early Intervention?
To many, early intervention is a service offered by the state. But early intervention is so much more than that. It is getting help for a child who may be delayed or have disabilities.
For our family, this is partly true. Both of my children of have been a part of early intervention programs in the states that we have lived in, but as a parent I have been able to do so much more than that for my children. To us, early intervention is getting the services and therapies my children need at a young age in order to help them succeed and to have a better quality of life in the future.
Why is Early Intervention so Important?
Many moms say they don’t want to compare their child to other children or to the milestones for each age group. I do understand that to a point. Yes, doctors can be too proactive at times, but they also tend to brush parents off. What if your doctor is wrong? What if your child doesn’t grow out of it? Wouldn’t you want help for your child before it’s too late?
There is much research on why it is important to get your child intervention at an early age. Here are some of the reasons why:
“Decades of rigorous research show that children’s earliest experiences play a critical role in brain development. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has summarized this research:
- Neural circuits, which create the foundation for learning, behavior, and health, are most flexible or “plastic” during the first three years of life. Over time, they become increasingly difficult to change.
- The brain is strengthened by positive early experiences, especially stable relationships with caring and responsive adults, safe and supportive environments, and appropriate nutrition.
- Early social/emotional development and physical health provide the foundation upon which cognitive and language skills develop.
- High-quality early intervention services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.” – nectac.org
Many parents say they don’t want to change their child, but what if you could help them? What if their quality of life was better because of what you did? Getting early intervention and therapy while your child is young could be the difference between more problems as they get older versus no problems or very little problems in the future. This is why I strongly believe in helping children now while their brains are still learning and growing.
What Does Early Intervention Look Like?
Early intervention may look different for each family. Some families choose to do their own research and help their child at home and on their own. I call this “Parent Intervention.” I did some of this with my son when I first realized that he was different than other children. I researched as much as I could and did as much as I could with him at home until he was given an official diagnosis. I know many moms who do this and have seen fantastic results!
Other families may choose to use Early Intervention Services or they may use a mix of Parent Intervention and early intervention. Each state offers Early Intervention Services for free. They may bill your insurance or you may have a co-pay if you can afford it, but they are funded by the state so that if you can’t afford it, you can still get the help your child needs.
Early Intervention Services can also include outpatient therapies and clinics that can evaluate and help your child. Our family does state funded early intervention and outpatient therapies. Both work well for us and our situation.
Before you can get services, your child will be evaluated either in your home or at a local clinic. This evaluation will look at five different areas: Physical Development, Cognitive Development, Communication, Social/Emotional Development, and Adaptive Skills. If you want to learn more about what these mean, please refer to this chart: What an Early Intervention Evaluation Looks Like.
I Think My Child Needs Early Intervention, What Now?
If you think your child may have a problem or be delayed, please don’t wait. Get an evaluation done now. You can always choose to wait on services depending on the results of the evaluation.
If you want to be proactive and get your child help now, you can research early intervention services in your area. Use google, to search for what’s available in your state. Ask other moms who may have good suggestions on what clinic is best to use.
Early Intervention changed my son’s life. And I know that it is changing my daughter’s life because I see those changes happening every day. Looking back, I know I wouldn’t change our decision for anything in the world.
What about YOU? Has your child utilized early intervention services? Did it help?