Why Early Intervention?
As a pediatric COTA practicing in EI OT, Early intervention is my PASSION! Currently, there is no area of practice I love more. If you’re wondering what exactly early intervention is, you’re in the right place.
When you think of early intervention, think babies, specifically children 0-3 years old. There are also speech therapy, physical therapy, and other services available through EI.
Why Are These Services Free?
EI services are provided by in the United States with federal funding. This funding is provided through Part C of the IDEA (Individuals for Disabilities Act), although a child does not need to have a disability to benefit from EI services and qualify to use this funding.
EI is provided through government funding for children who are 0-3 years old who are experiencing delays or interruption in function and development. This can be due to a medical diagnosis, or a general delay due to many different happenings including but not limited to low birth weight, preterm birth, birth trauma, etc. Sometimes, a child will have none of these concerns and for some reason, they are not keeping up with their developmental milestones and just needs some extra support.
Sometimes a pediatrician will notice these delays and refer to services, and sometimes parents notice themselves and are able to self-refer into EI (more on this below).
Capitalizing on the Brain’s Plasticity
What I love about early intervention is that it capitalizes on the immense amout of growth and development that occurs during the ages of 0-3 (Knickmeyer, 2008)(Nelson, 2000). The brain grows immensely during these years and we have an opportunity to provide therapy during a time where neuroplasticity is more readily available than other phases of life. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to forge new connections and prune old ones that are not serving us. Watch this video for an amazing explanation of how neuroplasticity works!
Long story short: if a therapist can come into a family’s life and help support a child during this time, they can more easily help the child and change the course of their lives! So, so awesome!
Also – it is important to note that 0-3 is not the only time we can use neuroplasticity in this way. Adults have neurologically plastic brains and so do kids who are 3+, alas, there is never a time in our lives where our brains are more plastic than when we are infants, and that is the beauty of EI services.
How to Begin with EI services
Watch this video and read more about how the EI intake process. This video explains the process here in Denver where I practice, it may vary a bit in your area.
A pediatrician can refer a family in early intervention services as they typically would refer you to any other specialist. If your pediatrician notices you may need the services, they will help you get started. You are also able to ask your pediatrician about starting EI services if you feel your child is in need.
What is also amazing about early intervention services – you can refer yourself! A simple call to local early childhood resources in your area can direct you on how to set-up an evaluation to see if your child qualifies for EI services. All the state and local numbers for self-referral can be found here.
What questions do you have? Reach out to me or comment below!
If you’re unsure whether or not your child would qualify for these services – schedule a free virtual consultation with me. If your family is local to Metro Denver, my team and I would be happy to complete an in-person consult with you and your child – please reach out directly for those services either by email at email@example.com, or give me a call, 303-900-8710.
EI funding is an amazing resource that families can take advantage of to help their children have a great start to an amazing childhood and adult life.
Knickmeyer, R. C., Gouttard, S., Kang, C., Evans, D., Wilber, K., Smith, J. K., … Gilmore, J. H. (2008). A Structural MRI Study of Human Brain Development from Birth to 2 Years. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28(47), 12176 LP – 12182. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3479-08.2008
Nelson, C. A. (2000), Neural plasticity and human development: the role of early experience in sculpting memory systems. Developmental Science, 3: 115-136. doi:10.1111/1467-7687.00104