What is Early Intervention (EI)?
Simply put, Early Intervention (EI) is a comprehensive and coordinated program of home and community-based services that offers support for families of infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities or delays. Organizations like The Groden Center provide parents and caregivers with a myriad of EI tools and techniques that when consistently applied, can help children with special needs. Specifically as it pertains to their learning and socialization skills.
What Developmental Issues Qualify for EI?
Issues that may require the need for EI include a disability or delay in speech, physical ability, or social skills. An evaluation of a child with disabilities or delays can be assessed as early as eighteen months.
Once a child is diagnosed with EI, there are many programs available to families at no charge.
It is important to note that early developmental issues are not only a challenge for the children experiencing these issues, but can be very stressful for the parents, caregivers and siblings as well. One of the goals of Early Intervention is to provide support to families so their children can develop to their fullest potential.*
What can early intervention do for my child?
Research over the past 30 years has documented the importance of EI for young children who have developmental disabilities*. Some benefits include:
- Early intervention services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.
- Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when provided earlier in life rather than later.
- Neural circuits, which create the foundation for learning, behavior and health, are the most flexible or “plastic” during the first three years of life.
*July 2011, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC)
Effective Strategies for Early Intervention
Whenever possible, services are provided in places where children usually play or take part in daily activities. Strategies focus on implementing rules, rituals, and routines to help develop:
- Physical skills (reaching, crawling, walking, building, drawing)
- Cognitive skills (thinking, learning, solving problems)
- Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding others)
- Self-help or adaptive skills (eating, dressing)
- Social or emotional skills (playing, interacting with others)
How Does An Effective EI Program Help Children and Parents/Caregivers of Children With Early Developmental Issues like Autism?
Mary Pat Turner contacted The Groden Network shortly after moving to Rhode Island a year ago. They worked with her to design a custom program for her son to help with his early development issues.
“My son Ari who is now three, received a number of services through Early Intervention, and it was a really important experience for us. One thing that was amazing is that with the therapies Groden provided (based on his needs), there wasn’t a cap on how many therapies or how many times a week he could see a therapist. This made an enormous difference in how well my son progressed.”
At first, the therapists met with Mary Pat and her family at home and at their local playground, then moved to a virtual environment after COVID became an issue. “Although it was more effective having the therapist come to our home to show and coach me through hands-on strategies we could use, we were still able to keep up that consistency and support using video conferencing during the pandemic.”
Early Intervention Services Are Sometimes Confused with ABA, But There Are Differences
Unlike with ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), EI therapists do not work directly with the children. Instead they focus on working with parents, caregivers and family members to educate and coach them on effective techniques and strategies. With EI, a more family-centric approach is key to Early Intervention success.
But with dedicated EI therapists, help doesn’t stop with teaching and coaching. In the case of Mary Pat, The Groden Network was able to assist her in procuring a compression shirt for her child. “It actually changed his behavior, the way he felt, his sensory experience. I never would have guessed how a compression shirt would be such a huge help.It allowed my son to feel more grounded. Angela at Groden provided us with that and now we never go anywhere without it. So Groden helped by not just suggesting things, but also helping to make them possible.”
How to find Out if Early Intervention Is Right for Your Child
Talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns about your child’s development. The earlier a diagnosis can be made, the sooner they can get the help they need. If you have any questions about Early Intervention Services in Rhode Island, please feel free to reach out to the The Groden Network. We will be happy to assist you and provide detailed information about our EI services.