October 11, 2019

Early intervention proven to promote skills in young children

By uclahealth

Early intervention describes the services that help support children up to age three who have or are at risk for a developmental delay or disability. Early childhood intervention is highly effective at helping children learn new skills or overcome challenges that might otherwise prevent them from having success in life or school.

When is a child eligible for early intervention services?

By law, parents and caregivers in California can request early intervention services if their child meets the eligibility criteria:

  • Developmental delays: When an infant or toddler has a developmental delay of at least 33 percent in areas such as thinking, motor skills, speech or social development.
  • At risk for developmental delay or disability: When a child has experienced something that could result in a developmental delay, such as premature birth or birth trauma.
  • Developmental disability: The child has been diagnosed with a disability such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or autism, even if they aren’t showing any signs of delay.

What skills does early intervention focus on?

Children receive early intervention services to help them progress with life skills. Early intervention emphasizes five skill areas:

  • Physical: Crawling, sitting, walking, drawing
  • Cognitive: Thinking, learning or solving problems
  • Communication: Listening and understanding, talking
  • Self-help: Eating, dressing or using the toilet
  • Social/emotional: Sharing, playing with others

How to access early childhood intervention

In California, you can request services through the Regional Center Early Start Intake and Family Resource Centers. The regional center in your area will evaluate your child to determine their eligibility for early intervention services. Parents, medical providers, family members or daycare providers are among the many people who can make a referral for services.

Within 45 days, the regional center will:

  • Assign a coordinator to facilitate an evaluation and assessment
  • Develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) if the child is eligible for services
  • Identify the services the child will receive and refer you to an early intervention provider

What early intervention services are available to children?

The regional center or a local education agency can arrange for the early intervention services the child needs. Many service providers exist, including the UCLA Intervention Program. Depending on your child’s needs, he or she may receive the following services:

  • Occupational therapy (OT): OT services help children learn through everyday experiences and interactions to improve daily living, such as holding a fork. For children, these interactions are often play-based.
  • Physical therapy (PT): PT services help with motor skill development, such as learning to crawl or sit, or playing with toys of different sizes and shapes.
  • Hearing services: Audiology services can help determine if a child has a hearing impairment and identify necessary supports such as hearing aids.
  • Speech and language care: Speech-language therapy can help kids speak and express their thoughts. It can also help them better understand what others are saying to them.
  • Vision care: Vision impairment can contribute to developmental delays. An evaluation may determine that a child needs vision support.
  • Assistive technology: Specialized cups or spoons, communication devices or head pointers may help the child to function better.

What is the UCLA Intervention Program?

The UCLA Intervention Program provides services that promote development and quality of life for children and their family members. The program is play-based to help kids engage and feel motivated. The program emphases what children can do, rather than what they cannot do and provides ongoing support and guidance to families based on their unique needs.

The focus areas for the UCLA Intervention Program include:

  • Creativity: Kids have fun through exploration and experimentation.
  • Cognition and language: In play-based sessions, children practice following directions, paying attention and learning important concepts like body parts, shapes or colors.
  • Social/emotional: Children learn to be aware of themselves and others through play and by taking turns. Activities build self-esteem and confidence.
  • Motor skills: Child-directed activities and play help kids learn to balance and improve both gross and fine motor skills.

To learn more, including how to enroll, call 310-825-4821.

Tags: developmental delay, developmental disability, early childhood intervention, early intervention program, Healthy Living, News & Insights, pediatrics, Pediatrics, UCLA Early Intervention Program, UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital

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