Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Short Term and Long Term Benefits of Early Intervention

Current research on early childhood intervention has documented the many short- and long-term effects and benefits of early intervention for both children and families.

Short term benefits usually refer to immediate benefits of early intervention, or those seen within a few years of receiving intervention services.

Example: At age 18 months, Joey had very limited vocabulary. His parents worked with an early intervention consultant who recommended the Hanen Language Program. This program worked for Joey’s parents, with the early intervention consultant because it showed them how to follow Joey’s lead and to help him imitate sounds and words. When Joey’s parents learned that Joey had a severe delay in his language, they found out about the possible benefits of signing or using American Sign Language.

Long term benefits usually refer to benefits that may not be seen until the child is an adolescent or even an adult.

Example: Kelly received early intervention services since she was one year old because her parents were concerned that she was not meeting the developmental milestones at the time (for example, standing, crawling, or talking her first words). Kelly’s program included physiotherapy to help her walk, speech therapy to help her with language development, and placement in a preschool where she received one to one attention for pre-reading and writing skills. By age 15, Kelly could go from one place to another in her community as her peers did. For example, she learned how to take a bus, by herself, from one location to another, thanks to learning to rely on herself,  to read bus and street signs, as well as to communicate with adults when needed.

Immediate benefits:

  • a family learns to cope with having a child with special needs;
  • children learn the skills they will need in order to succeed in preschool;
  • children learn the skills they need in order to interact in socially acceptable ways with their peers;
  • interventionists may be able to prevent certain conditions or disorders from getting worse.

Long-term benefits:

  • children learn the skills they will need in order to succeed in school;
  • children may need less intervention services, once in school;
  • some children may not need any intervention services, once in school;
  • older children are more likely to stay in school and less likely to drop out;
  • older children are less likely to get in trouble with the law.


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