In general, early intervention can be used as a broad term referring to the early identification and treatment of young children with delays or disorders in development, from birth through the preschool years, prior to their entry into kindergarten. Our clinic’s philosophy embraces the concept of early intervention in order to remediate problems as soon and as much as possible before a child enters a formal school program. We believe this will increase a child’s readiness for school and likelihood of success. Poorly developed language skills can have a significant impact on learning and academics. Language issues can affect the development of pre-academic skills as well as reading and writing. We also believe that solid speech and language skills will contribute to building successful social relationships and positive self-esteem. Our therapists are well versed in child speech and language development and their disorders. We specialize in early intervention, and apply a multi-faceted approach, as appropriate. This may range from child exploration and play to use of theme-based units for speech/language development to tabletop work and skill building. The latter may be accomplished by using such materials as toys/objects, pictures, stories, coloring, puzzles, worksheets (specific to early speech/language development) and so forth. Parent education and involvement, as always, is an important component.
The term “early intervention” also refers specifically to the diagnosis and treatment of infants and toddlers who have been identified with delays in their development or who have a diagnosed condition placing them at risk for developmental delay (refer to: http://www.med.unc.edu/childas/refsupp/sharon.pdf. We have therapists who have specialized training in early intervention for infants and toddlers, and we provide speech/language services starting typically at 18 months of age (although we may see children earlier depending on the presenting issues, child/family needs and assessments/recommendations of other professionals working with the child). Another very good site to visit is http://e-bility.com/ecia-nsw/faq.htm
We usually see toddlers in an individual therapy paradigm that involves the parent/family. Other professionals may be involved in your child’s care. Importance is placed on collaboration and, when possible, co-treatment with your child’s intervention team. Treatment also includes goals, which will assist carryover of skills across environments (e.g., home, community, child care center, other intervention programs).
We occasionally see toddlers with their caregiver(s) in small groups in a playgroup format, which offers a wide range of toys and materials to meet the needs of children across developmental levels. There is emphasis on parent-child interaction and parent education as well as speech/language/communication and play development. Collaboration with others as well as carryover of functional skills remain an important aspect in this model.
Preschoolers may also be seen in group format when emphasis in being placed on skill generalization with peers or use of their language in social/play environments.