It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to find out that your child has been born with a disability. Feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, isolation and helplessness often surround new parents who don’t know where to go or who to turn to.
Early intervention services are designed to quell the anxiety by providing resources and solutions to help you and your baby grow. With an early intervention, the child will foster with a large support structure and will have the best chance at normal development through specially-focused programs, while you get the emotional support you need to make it through the first few difficult years.
There are three main reasons to consider such a program. First, early intervention services enhance child development. Intervention research suggests that the rate of human learning and development is most rapid in the first five years of life.
Early skill development is crucial to laying the groundwork for lifelong education. Secondly, these interventions assist parents and siblings, helping them deal with feelings of stress or helplessness, while learning to maintain a positive attitude.
Families of handicapped children are found to have increased instances of divorce, suicide and domestic abuse, experts say, so an early intercession is critical to managing emotions from the onset. Lastly, early intervention services will increase the child’s developmental and educational gains, increasing his or her eligibility for future employment and self-sufficiency.
Some parents wonder, “Is early intervention really effective?” After nearly 50 years of research by the Department of Education, there is substantial evidence that early intervention services increase the developmental and educational gains for the child. Additionally, children with early interventions need less services later in life, have less instances of failing a grade and offer more long-term benefits for society.
The parents who go through the intervention program are also in a healthier, happier place. One intervention study indicated that disadvantaged and gifted preschoolers benefited from an early intervention program all the way through to age 19. These benefits included more dedication to school, more college attendees, higher reading/arithmetic/language test scores, fewer instances of delinquent behavior and a 50% reduction in the need for special education services in high school (Berrueta-Clement, Schweinhart, Barnett, Epstein, Weikart, 1984).
If you’re wondering what early intervention professionals can offer you, then check the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities site for more details. Generally, intervention services may include family intervention training/counseling, home visits, special instruction/speech therapy, hearing impairment services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological evaluation/therapy, medical services (if necessary), social work services, assistive living technology, transportation, nutrition services and service coordination.