What is early childhood intervention? Is it important in a child’s growth and development? Given below are the things you should know about early childhood intervention!
We know each individual is unique, the personality, developing process, reacting to things, everything is different from person to person.
The same happens in the case of toddlers as well, their physical and mental development varies. So we cannot predict the growth process of each baby exactly.
However, we can predict some signs of children’s growth, for instance, the babies begin to walk by 18 months old. If the child has not started walking after 18 months, it means that there is a problem with his physical development.
Intervention services like ECI services can help you identify such deformities in your child’s development. They assist the child and family by giving them support and proper guidance.
1. What is Early Childhood Intervention?
Early Childhood Intervention – ECI is a program for families with children birth to 36 months, with developmental delays. It helps to determine certain medical diagnoses that may influence growth.
By the 1970s, early childhood intervention programs were established in the US and some countries in Europe.
2. When Does a Baby Need Support?
Sometimes it is possible to recognize from the moment a child is born. Sometimes it will take time to recognize the delays in development. In both cases, early intervention services will be essential in helping the children grow and develop.
The overall development of the child includes physical, cognitive, communicative, emotional, and self-help. If a baby fails to achieve any of these skills, that means he needs assistance. That is what early childhood intervention support does.
Parents can contact their local program or local school district directly and ask to have their child evaluated, this evaluation is free of charge.
3. Various Early Childhood Interventions
The treatments vary as per the need of the child, some children need physical support whereas, some need psychological assistance. Some of the early childhood intervention therapies are:
- Language therapy
- Physical treatment
- Functional therapy
- Psychological assistance and counselling
- Sensory integration treatment
- Dietary approaches
- Alternative learning programs
The children who are eligible for services will be determined by evaluation and assessment. Eligible children can receive early intervention services from birth to 36 months.
How Does the Service Work?
The states or territories provide ECI services through local programs, foundations, and hospitals. These programs are entirely individualized.
ECI programs care for families as well, and various facilities included are parks, libraries, and other community settings.
A service coordinator will connect the family and assist the family to receive and access the services. A team of licensed service providers will also be there to evaluate the child and plan accordingly.
The team consists of an early intervention specialist, a physical therapist, a speech and language pathologist, Registered nurses, and counsellors.
The early childhood intervention experts and family work together to meet the child’s developmental goals. They make the child learn to walk, communicate with parents, and more. They equip the child for elementary school.
4. What do the Early Childhood Intervention Providers do?
Once they receive the family’s request, an initial service coordinator will be assigned to meet the family to discuss their expectations. They will collect the child’s information, and after that, they will review the process with the family.
Then they will determine the services. For an accurate assessment, the early childhood intervention provider takes the assistance of a professional to evaluate the child.
- The professional interviews the family to gather information on the strengths and challenges of the child. He collects family history, preferences, and other relevant matters.
- They will observe the child’s interactions with others.
- They will assess all developmental areas, such as hearing, vision, communication, etc.
- An assessment of the family will also be there to recognize the family’s means, priorities, and interests.
Different Service Areas:
- Family Training.
- Special Guidance.
- Speech Therapies.
- Training Sign Language.
- Physical Treatments.
- Psychological Assistance.
- Coordination Services.
- Assistive technology devices and Services.
- Case Management.
If your child is eligible for early childhood intervention services, they should form an individualized family service plan. It is meant to help family members recognize the special needs of their children.
This plan is the blueprint for the family’s involvement and the baby’s services. It contains a description of the child’s levels of development, a description of the family’s priorities and concerns, etc.
Other areas it covers are:
- A description of the measurable outcomes expected to be achieved.
- Distinct ECI services
- Method of delivering services
- A report of natural environments in which ECI services will implement
- The expected length, duration, and frequency of services
- The steps are taken to encourage the transformation of the child to preschool or other appropriate areas.
What is After Age 3?
Until 3 years, the baby gets services from the family plan, under IDEA part C. After that special education services will be given to the child under IDEA part B.
The differences between IFSP and IEP are:
- IFSP is for babies from birth through age 3 while, IEP is for ages 3 to 21.
- IFSP services include family members’ priorities also whereas, IEP focuses on the child’s needs.
- A service coordinator will be there in IFSP services. But there will not be any service coordinator in IEP services.
- IFSP services provide in the natural environment but, IEP services are in schools.
In both services, parents are given importance. Parents understand their children best and have a role in their child’s life.
IDEA understands that children are most successful when parents and professionals form partnerships. Together they can recognize the intensities, requirements, and developmental and educational goals for children with disabilities.
5. Who can Become an Early Intervention Specialist?
Anyone keen to work with children, especially children with physical, and mental disabilities, can become an early childhood intervention specialist.
Their responsibilities include designing, implementing, modifying, and evaluating interventions to positively influence the developmental requirements of infants with disabilities. They have to work within the classroom and center-based programs as well.
You should earn undergraduate training related to early childhood special education. Coursework should comprise topics related to developmental milestones and educational assessments.
Selecting accredited courses increases the credibility of the programs. After obtaining the undergraduate degree, you can pursue a master’s degree with an emphasis on early childhood intervention.
Besides, expertise like behavioural problems, classroom intervention, early intervention assessments, and risk factors in special needs children equip your mastery.
You should fulfill state licensure requirements through the state’s Department for Education to legally practice as an early intervention specialist.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in America
In the United States, under the Disability Education Act, special education is provided free of charge through the public education system. Early childhood intervention is open in all states and territories of the United States.
The primary focus of IDEA is to protect the rights of children with disabilities. And allow parents to express their opinions on their children’s education.
IDEA provides procedural safeguards to parents. That is parents are always allowed the right to make decisions regarding the education of their children.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, enacted the Early Intervention Program in 1986. It directs the state and public agencies’ services to early intervention and special education.
The act’s Part C mentions services to children from birth to age 3 with developmental delays or disability. It suggests the support of their families also.
IDEA Part B is to give special education and related services to needy children and youth from 3 years to 21. Besides IDEA, early intervention services are obtainable through several national, regional, and state programs like Crisis Nurseries and Healthy Start America.
In 1992, the Texas ECI Program became the first in the United States to operate as an independent state agency. It came under the roof of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
IDEA-funded states are expected to follow its principles equally. However, states have a good deal of freedom to set fitness standards differently. States are free to use different methods to recognize children’s needs and services.
There are numerous areas where states execute the law in very different ways resulting in a significant difference. For example, some states are very particular about how genetic conditions are analyzed and organized. They are specific about which are regarded as an additional risk.
Some states take delay by a percentage, they practice several standard variations below the mean. They may place different standards based on whether the delay is in one or multiple areas of improvement.
There are differences in how disability is categorized after 3 years also. Some states continue to use the delay category for children till age nine.
IDEA guarantees that children with disabilities have permission to free and adequate public education. The schools provide these children with special needs under the lowest possible conditions.
It emphasizes that disabled children stay in regular classes as much as possible education. If recommended by the IEP committee, these children can continue to attend high school until they are 21 years old.
A child goes through many hurdles in his life, and to make sure he gets the best support needed for healthy development, an early childhood intervention program was developed. Make sure to reap the benefits of this program to secure your child’s future.
Read here: 9 perfect examples of positive behaviour support.