Why is Early Intervention of Great Importance?

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.

4 Great Techniques To Help Your Baby Learn To Creep

Most babies typically begin creeping around the six- to seven-month mark. However, the range of age is wide in terms of when this may actually occur. Some babies begin to creep as early as five months, while others may take as long as eight or nine months. Creeping requires a considerable amount of trunk and upper/lower extremity strength, so have some patience and don’t rush your little one! We have provided a few techniques below to help you help baby get moving.

Please note: if you are worried that your baby is not as active as she should be, talk with your pediatrician. Trust your instincts!

Before we get to the techniques, let’s define the difference between two terms that are often used interchangeably: creeping and crawling.

Creeping isdefined as moving around on the floor with the stomach in direct contact with the ground. Some babies develop the ability to creep in a circle first; while others, whose arms are stronger than their legs, are able to creep backwards first.

Crawling is defined as moving on hands and knees with the stomach up off of the ground. One type of crawling, known as commando crawling, may be seen when an infant moves around on the floor on forearms while dragging his hips behind him.

The following are some strategies for initiating and developing creeping skills in your baby:

Tummy Time

One often overlooked aspect of developing the ability to creep is time spent on the floor. As long as your baby has adequate head control then she should be spending at least one hour each day, every day, on the floor. This activity has many benefits such as building strength of the arms and chest muscles as baby pushes her chest up off the floor. While in this position, baby will also have an opportunity to strengthen her neck muscles as she lifts her head to look around the room. Some babies may not like or be able to tolerate tummy time for extended periods. If this is your baby, start small and gradually increase the amount of time spent on the floor. Your baby will be able to tolerate being on her stomach if she sees you doing it with her, so lie down on your stomach face-to-face with your baby and show her how much fun tummy time is!

Once your baby is able to tolerate being on her stomach for an extended length of time, you are ready to help her to start moving.

Creeping in a Circle

  • Position baby on the floor propped on her forearms.
  • Place a small, brightly colored toy directly in front of her just out of reach.
  • Move the toy towards your baby’s side in a semi-circle so that she has to turn her head to continue looking at the toy.
  • Encourage her to shift her body weight from one hand to the other and try to reach the toy by pivoting on her stomach.
  • As she begins moving towards the toy, move it so that it is just out of her reach. Continue moving the toy until she has crept in a complete circle towards one side of her body. Allow her to play with the toy for a short amount of time and then repeat this process towards the opposite side of her body. Repeat this activity so that baby makes five complete circles to both the right and left sides of her body.

Practice creeping in a circle every day for about one week. Once baby is confident in her ability to complete this activity, she is then ready to attempt to creep forward.

Creeping Forward (Double Leg Assist)

  • Position baby on her stomach on the floor with a small toy just out of reach.
  • Once she is engaged with the toy, kneel behind her and slightly bend both of her knees.
  • Place your hands under the bottom of her feet and provide her with a firm surface from which to push off of.
  • Encourage her to reach forward to get the toy by dragging herself forward with her hands and pushing off of your hands with her feet.

When baby is able to creep forward using the above technique, she is ready to move forward and attempt to creep with assistance provided to one leg at a time.

Creeping Forward (Single Leg Assist)

  • Place baby on her stomach with a brightly colored toy in front of her just out of reach.
  • Once she is interested in and focused on the toy, bend one of her knees.
  • Place your hand under the foot of the leg with the bent knee and encourage her to push off from your hand as she reaches for the toy by extending or straightening that leg.
  • When baby has moved forward, switch to her other leg and bend that knee and repeat the above process.
  • Continue forward alternating between her right and left legs.

After about a month or two of practice on the floor creeping in a circle and creeping forward, baby should be ready to start learning how to crawl. Stay tuned for future articles on techniques for helping your baby through this next stage of development.