…by Holly Putnam Bacasa, PT
EARLY INTERVENTION IS EXACTLY THAT- INTERVENING EARLY! And it works!
What is Early Intervention?
Do you have a concern about your child’s development? Do you have questions about their milestones? Early Intervention can help! Early intervention (EI) services are for children ages 0-3 and are available in every US state! Parents and primary caregivers can call for EI services if they have a concern about any area of their child’s development.
Early Intervention is an opportunity for you to be coached how to build on your baby or toddler’s strengths to help advance their development- and it happens right in their natural environment!
Does your gut tell you something isn’t right- but your husband thinks you’re crazy? Did you mention something to your pediatrician, but they want to “wait and see”? Did grandma mention something to you at the last family gathering? Should your baby be rolling, sitting, crawling or walking by now? Is tummy time a daily challenge? Is your baby having challenges with textures or do you have a picky eater? Do you think your child should be saying more words? Are these temper tantrums normal? I can go on and on….
I am a pediatric Physical Therapist- and a mom of 4, and I have worked in pediatrics for 23 years. I have done 1000’s of Early Intervention developmental evaluations over the past 10 years- AND….. I HAVE NEVER MET A MOM WHO IS WRONG!!!
You might see something or experience something with your baby- something you’re just not sure about. Is it a concern, is it not a concern?
Information from an early intervention therapist can be re-assuring and empowering.
Who is Early Intervention For?
It’s for YOU! Parents and caregivers can learn reasons behind their baby’s behavior and actions, and they can be given strategies to confidently progress their baby forward in their milestones.
If you have any concern about your baby’s development, then please call! That’s what early intervention is there for. I promise this time will not be wasted. This is an opportunity for you to learn about and how to help your baby or toddler.
Again- “I have never met a mom who’s wrong”, as I often say at my evaluations.
Every concern is important, and every concern is real, and if we, the early intervention therapists, use our skills and knowledge to listen, to re-affirm, to educate and to give perspective, then we are giving you empowerment to help your child.
You are right about what you see and experience, and maybe it’s typical and maybe it’s not. Regardless, you will be heard and given recommendations and resources custom to you and your child.
Early Intervention Near You
So here is what to do– call your county’s Service Coordination Unit for Early Intervention services to schedule your evaluation. Here is the link to information to Early Intervention programs throughout the United States, to get you started. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/parents/state-text.html
Your pediatrician should have the contact information for your county if you are having trouble finding it.
With the current state of our country and all of our efforts to stay healthy and flatten the curve during this unexpected pandemic, these evaluations are available via TELEHEALTH in many states. I am currently doing telehealth evaluations in my county, and the families are benefiting, without a doubt.
The Early Intervention Team
You are the captain of this team, and the evaluation will take place right in your ship-your home or child care setting! Isn’t that awesome??? A service coordinator and a pediatric therapist, or team of pediatric therapists (Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist, and/or a Developmental Therapist), will come to meet you and your child. They will listen to your concerns and use standardized assessment to evaluate your child’s 5 developmental areas- self care skills, personal social skills, communication skills, gross & fine motor skills and cognitive skills. An evaluation by a vision therapist and a nutritionist, as needed, are also part of the program.
If your child does qualify for EI, which is based on a diagnosis or score, then a customized plan is written, called an IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan. This is a plan developed with you, your service coordinator and input from the therapy team. The plan will work out the details for a therapist to begin to consistently use tele-health, or eventually be able to come into your home and/or childcare center, to coach you and other caregivers toward meeting the goal(s) that you have for your child.
You Know Your Child Best
Infants and toddlers are amazing, and their abilities and capacity to move and learn are often underestimated. Would your baby or toddler benefit from EI?
I am biased, but it works. I watch it happen right in front of my eyes. Be pro-active! This window of time in these early years matters. Every week is new right? Go with your instinct!
Do not follow the “Let’s wait and see…” or “They’ll grow out of it…” philosophy.
You are in charge! Call! I promise that you’ll learn something!
Here is the link to Early Intervention near you!
Check out my blog, “Baby Movin’-Your Baby’s Motor Skills are Related to All Areas of Their Development,” to learn more about the developmental areas that are assessed at an Early Intervention evaluation and how your baby’s movement is involved in all of them!