What is Early Intervention and How does it work?
Early intervention: what is it?
Early intervention is specialized support for children with disability, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental delay and other additional needs. Early intervention should happen as soon as possible after a child’s needs are identified. It might include therapies, education and other supports.
You’ll also hear the terms early childhood intervention and early childhood early intervention. These refer to intervention for children and their families in the early years from birth until children start school.
How does early intervention work?
As your child’s specific needs are identified interventions can be targeted to address your child’s and family’s specific needs.
Early intervention often focuses on four key areas of children’s development:
- physical development – that is, children’s bodies and brains
- cognitive development – that is, children’s thinking and learning
- behavioural development – that is, children’s behaviour and how it’s affected by physical and cognitive development
- social and emotional development – that is, children’s ability to form relationships and cope with emotions.
Different therapies used as part of early intervention address these developmental areas in different ways. For example:
- Occupational therapy can help with fine motor skills, play and self-help skills like dressing and toileting.
- Physiotherapy can help with motor skills like balance, sitting, crawling and walking.
- Speech therapy can help with speech, language, eating and drinking skills like chewing, sucking and swallowing.
- Psychological therapy can help with forming relationships, coping with emotions and learning behaviours and skills.
Children often benefit from a combination of therapies – this is called a multidisciplinary approach. And children often need different therapies or therapy combinations at different stages of their development.