When it comes to autism, early intervention is key. That’s why, for our next part of the Autism A to Z series, I is for Intervention. I was debating if this should be about integration or intervention or IEP or IFSP, and I think that they’re all important to know. So after we talk about intervention, we’ll also talk about integration in another post. IEP and IFSP will also be covered in another post though I’m not exactly sure when these posts will happen. But rest assured that they will happen. And if you’ve missed any part of this series so far, please be sure to check out Autism A to Z.
Sweet B was diagnosed with autism before her 2nd birthday. She had already been receiving speech, occupational, and physical therapy at home and we also had a special education specialist coming in. All of these services were made possible by the Early Intervention program in our county. But just what is early intervention and does it really make a difference?
To answer the second- yes, it absolutely makes a difference.
And to answer the first, Early Intervention in it’s simplest terms, is defined as follows: a system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities.
According to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), a baby or toddler is eligible by the following criteria:
- are experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following five areas: cognitive development, physical development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development; or
- have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay.
The IDEA requires that early intervention services be provided, to the maximum extent appropriate, in natural environments. These services can be provided in another setting only when early intervention cannot be achieved satisfactorily for the infant or toddler in a natural environment.
The natural environment includes the home and community settings where children would be participating if they did not have a disability. Each child’s individualized family service plan (IFSP) must contain a statement of the natural environments in which early intervention services will be provided, including a justification of the extent, if any, to which the services will not be provided in a natural environment.
Services include helping babies and toddlers meet developmental milestones that they may not be meeting in their own. These milestones include:
- physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
- cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems);
- communication (talking, listening, understanding);
- social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and
- self-help (eating, dressing).
(Center for Parent Information and Resources, accessed 4/9/2015)
So how do you access early intervention services in your state? By finding the lead agency in your state.