Early intervention is when a child with a developmental delay (such as Down Syndrome) recieves proper help and supports early on in life so problems in the future may be minimized. Early intervention is a program of physical therapy, excercise, and activity that is designed to help developmental delays the children with Down Syndrome experience. The programs are individualized to meet the specific needs of each child and cover these four main areas: gross motor and fine motor skills, language, social development, and self-help skills.
Commonly Asked Questions
When should early intervention start?
Early intervention should begin as soon as possible. It should start shortly after birth and continue until the child reaches the age of three. The sooner began, the better, but it's never too late to start. Once it is determined that your child has Down Syndrome, you should contact your local early intervention specialist and arrange for an evaluation and assessment.
How can early intervention benefit my child?
There are so many ways it can help your child! Appropriate physical therapy can help a baby with Down Syndrome who may have low muscle tone to achieve many milestones. An example is that infants are expected to gain head control and the ability to pull to sitting positions (with help) and have enough strength in the upper torso to maintain posture and with physical therapy, you child may reach that. Another example is that an infant is expected to use their fine motor skills to be able to hold and reach for objects. With physical therapy, your child might reach that point as well. The goal of early intervention is to accelerate development by building on a child's strengths and by doing so, strengthening areas that are weaker.
What can I expect in terms of my child's potential, future, and progress?
It's important to remember that each child, whether he or she has Down Syndrome or not, is a unique individual with his or her own strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and rate of development. Setting expectations are too low will set limits on what a child can achieve. Setting expectations that are too high and unrealistic will cause the child to feel like a burden and a failure. Accepting your child for who they are and knowing that they will grow and develop at their own individual rate by setting optimistic and realistic expectations is the best approach for their short and long term achievement.
How can parents benfit from early intervention programs?
Early intervention programs offer parents so much, including support, encouragement, and information. These programs teach parents how to interact with their child and how to meet their child's specific needs to enhance their development. They give parents the opportunity to share their concerns with other parents dealing with the same situation as them.
How can I find an early intervention program?
Check out our "Resources" tab! Otherwise: Today in every state in the U.S., there is a center that coordinates early intervention services. Public schools and community colleges are other resources, along with helpful books for excess information.