Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)

Early childhood intervention is a broad term that describes a wide range of services that are offered to children who are at risk (see full Glossary) for developmental delays or who have a developmental disability, and for their families. When children have special needs, both parents and their children may benefit from early childhood intervention services. These services do not replace the parent. They offer support, information and guidance to help a child’s development. One goal of early childhood intervention is to help infants and young children reach their full potential. Another goal is to minimize the effects of a disability or condition on the infant and young child. Early childhood intervention contains educational, therapeutic, and preventive components.

Early childhood intervention (ECI) services are provided by a wide variety of well-trained professionals (see full Glossary) and who work following the parents’ leads, based on their needs–that is, using a family-centred approach (see full Glossary). The ways ECI services are delivered vary. They may be provided at home or at a centre. In contrast to family-centred programs, some early childhood programs provide direct therapy-based services for children. These are offered in a play situation, where the child and interventionist interact together through toys and other therapeutic materials.

Decades of research indicate that early childhood intervention will make a lifelong difference in the lives of many children. It’s crucial for children who may not be developing typically or who may be at risk for developmental delays. Early childhood intervention may help children who are at risk for developmental delays:

  • Learn more efficiently and/or effectively;
  • Remember what they have learned;
  • Apply what they have learned to new situations;
  • Perform better in school;
  • Stay in and graduate from school;
  • Form good friendships;
  • Be in successful and happy relationships;
  • Get and maintain a satisfying job.

Families of children who receive early childhood intervention services are usually better able to:

  • Live successful family lives;
  • Manage their lives;
  • Be active and welcome members of their communities;
  • Navigate the system in order to get the best services possible for their children ;
  • Have wishes and dreams for children and achieve these wishes and dreams.

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