Every child grows and develops at their own pace, most achieve certain milestones like crawling, walking and uttering their first words at around the same age. When a child is not achieving the expected milestones on time, he is said to have developmental delays which can be worrisome.
A delay in development may not be a problem because some children are on different growth timelines, but it could also be the result of an underlying condition such as Autism or Dyslexia. Children who face these issues are ones with special needs and may require dedicated help and guidance in these early years.
What is Early Intervention?
Early intervention services include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. These services aim to maximize a child’s developmental potential and, when provided early, it helps to address these developmental delays.
Early intervention focuses on the following areas:
- Physical skills – walking, crawling, building
- Cognitive skills – thinking, solving problems
- Communication skills – talking, listening
- Adaptive skills – feeding oneself, dressing, catching items
- Social skills – playing, making friends and social interactions with peers
Specialists offer early intervention services. These services will depend on the type of delay your child is experiencing. They are provided at home or in specific schools and learning centres for school going kids. Getting these services early helps many kids catch up with their peers and thrive in both school and life.
Who Qualifies for Early Intervention?
Early intervention is offered to kids diagnosed with developmental delays or a health condition that stems genetically or a congenital disability. Some learning centres offer Early Intervention Programs (EIPs) for children up to 8 years of age, such as the program we have created here at Singapore Brain Development Centre.
Normally, your childcare provider may refer your child for an Early Intervention evaluation. If your child is eligible for these services, it is recommended that parents seek out a capable learning centre or team that will work with you to develop a personalized intervention plan that will best help your child.
Some of these services should include:
- Speech Therapy
- Promotes oral motor skills to improve expressive communication
- Uses speech, gestures, and electronics to help a child communicate
- Physical Therapy
- Helps promote movement and stability of the child when standing or walking
- Addresses the need for walkers or wheelchairs for kids unable to walk without aid
- Occupational Therapy
- Promotes growth and cultivation of cognitive, sensory, and motor skills
For Early Intervention in the years up to 3 years old, there will be an evaluation done at the end of the program. With the results of the evaluation, a doctor or the EIP team chosen will advise parents on where to receive more support and developmental training, or they may recommend a special education preschool that caters to the developmental needs of your child more than a normal preschool would. Early childhood educators also provide developmentally appropriate learning environments and activities to promote cognitive and social skills in children.
Why is Early Intervention Important?
According to research, Early Intervention has shown to improve a child’s overall development. Children who receive support at key developmental stages are more likely to gain essential social skills, respond better with empathy and are more ready to face the rigors and challenges that come with growing up in a competitive society such as Singapore.
Essentially, early detection can provide a special needs child with the potential for a better life through therapy. Parents of these children learn form an early age how to care for their child’s welfare whether mentally or physically as the child grows and receives help from specialists.
Diagnosing children with developmental delays also benefits relationships, as parents are then in a better position to understand their child and can anticipate their needs, respond and plan accordingly for their child and family. Taking care of kids with special needs can put a strain on the family but with early preparation and intervention, parents can prepare themselves for the road ahead mentally, emotionally and financially.
Early intervention helps the entire family as a whole: parents learn how to care for the child, the child benefits from specialized care from an early age and relationships and communication improves when all parties are on the same team.
Read more about the targeted and individualized Early Intervention Program (EIP) here at Singapore Brain Development Centre. We practice an MOE aligned development curriculum that combines therapy and school readiness skills to prepare kids for their primary school years.