Early intervention is the term used when a child receives therapy services at a young age. Therapy services can range from speech to physical therapy, to occupational therapy, and are usually started in the toddler to preschool years. Children who receive early intervention services generally have a greater rate of progress and success.
The main benefits to having your child receive early intervention services—and why early intervention is important—are as follows:
Helps maximize development
Most of the brain’s development and learning happens from birth to preschool age (3-4 years). By starting therapy during these crucial years, often referred to as “the stages of readiness,” you can maximize success by working with the brain as it develops, instead of trying to change certain aspects after development is complete.
Puts a support system in place
The earlier your child starts to receive services, the earlier a good support system is put into place, not just for your child, but for you as well. Support is necessary for positive growth and overall success.
Introduces skills and techniques early
The common saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes to mind here. Creating and turning techniques into a routine is, by far, easier to do with a young child than with an older child who has learned a different response or behavior. Again it comes back to using the advantage of the age where most development occurs.
Children who receive early intervention services, on average, reach their goals in a shorter time period than those who start therapy at an older age. This means a less overall cost, in both monetary and in time, for services.
More time to find what works
There is no “cookie cutter” form of therapy; each plan is specific to each child, concentrating on your child’s strengths while working on weaknesses. Finding the right techniques that work for your child does not happen overnight. The earlier you start receiving treatment, the more time you have to find the best form of treatment while remaining in the important brain development window.
Sources: The-Special-Needs-Child.com | Grisolano.com | AgBell.org | PreschoolLearningCenter.org
The Importance of Early Intervention
Shandy Marso, Contributor