THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY INTERVENTION (EI)

 

Many times when parents reach out to me for help or to discuss their concerns about their child's development, I let them know it is important to start an intervention immediately as time is ticking and the longer a child stays without intervention the more difficult it is to help or change whatever the challenges are when the child eventually starts intervention.

Some Reasons Why Parents Delay

1. Some are still in denial and hoping the problem would just go overnight so teddy decide to wait.

2. The "my neighbours/in-laws/parents said" : sometimes even after listening to a clinician's recommendation(s) some parents will still listen to contrary opinions instead of what their clinician or medical professional recommends.

3. Money : yes we know that intervention requires finance to get started but then if you sleep on it for too long you'll still spend that money on intervention that won't be as effective as an early intervention that was invested in earlier. Please make that sacrifice immediately for your ward's good.

4. Blame game : instead of seeking immediate help some parents are busy blaming someone else for their child's challenges. Stop it and seek help!

5. Window shopping: some parents would have consulted the right clinician and would have gotten the right recommendations but would go round the country looking for a cheaper option which by the way may be substandard. Sometimes they will even be confused after consulting too many people.

WHY EARLY INTERVENTION (EI)?

Decades of rigorous research show that children’s earliest experiences play a critical role in brain development. The Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University has summarized this after a research:

•Neural circuits, which create the foundation for learning, behaviour and health, are most flexible or “plastic” during the first three years of life. Over time, they become increasingly difficult to change.

• Persistent “toxic” stress, such as extreme poverty, abuse and neglect, or severe maternal depression can damage the developing brain, leading to lifelong problems in learning, behaviour, and physical and mental health.

• The brain is strengthened by positive early experiences, especially stable relationships with caring and responsive adults, safe and supportive environments, and appropriate nutrition.

• Early social/emotional development and physical health provide the foundation upon which cognitive and language skills develop.

• High quality early intervention services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.

• Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later.

In conclusion, there is an urgent and substantial need to identify as early as possible those infants and toddlers in need of

services to ensure that intervention is provided when the developing brain is most capable of change.

• High quality early intervention programs for vulnerable infants and toddlers can reduce the incidence of future problems in their learning, behaviour and health status.

• Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later.

 

References

1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (2004).

2. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2008). InBrief: The science of early childhood development.

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/download_file/-/view/64/

3. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2010). The foundations of lifelong health are built in early childhood.

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/library/reports_and_working_papers/foundations-of-lifelong-health/

4. The Importance of Early Intervention for Infants andToddlerswith Disabilities and their Families. July 2011. The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

 
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