Early intervention provides services for children birth to age three. These services include physical, speech, occupational, vision, hearing, behavior, feeding and play therapy. Services are family-directed and routines based, which means that family members are an integral part of the team. They are guided in understanding the special needs of their child and are trained on how to enhance their child’s development throughout the day during typical routines . Parents and caregivers are taught ways to help their child learn new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as:
- physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
- cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems, mastering play);
- communication (talking, listening, understanding);
- social/emotional (playing with others, feeling secure and happy, following family routines easily)
adaptive (eating, sleeping, and dressing)
An infant or toddler that has a delay of 25% or more in one or more of these developmental areas, was born prematurely or has a high probability of having a delay due to a disability, is eligible for early intervention services.
Early intervention is available in every state of the United States. It is a requirement under Part C of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).