Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Category — 1.2 What is EI: Importance and Necessity of Early Intervention

Importance and Necessity of Early Intervention

  • Early childhood intervention (ECI) is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. More than 40 years of research1 have shown that without early intervention, young children with special needs and those who are at risk for developmental delays would be at a serious disadvantage.

o   Recent studies on the development of the brain, show that learning occurs at its fastest during the early childhood years. For children who are at risk for developmental delays, the earlier intervention starts, the better the outcome for the child.

  • When quality early intervention is implemented, success rates are higher. A number of children may only need these services until their early preschool years. Other children may continue to receive help during their school years. Still, these children are more likely to succeed because of their earlier intervention experiences. Their success also translates to lower costs to society as children grow older and become contributing members of their society.
  • At individual and family levels, quality ECI services have a very positive effect on the quality of life of young children and their families. Early childhood intervention also involves helping school and preschool personnel accommodate children with special needs in their classrooms.
  • At the community level, ECI involves helping society understand the needs of children with special needs and their families. Without it, many young children with special needs experience serious exclusion in the communities in which they live. For example,
    • programs may lack special equipment for children with physical disabilities;
    • personnel may not have specialized training to support children with moderate to severe cognitive or emotional needs; or,
    • staff may experience children with difficult behavior as disruptive or problematic.

    For this reason, children may not be welcome in drop-in programs and leisure activities in their communities.  A main reason for this social exclusion (see full Glossary) is a lack of understanding of a child’s special needs. Educating community members about special needs could help remove some of the social barriers that some children and their families experience.

    Children who receive ECI have a higher chance to develop to the most of their potential. This is especially true for children and parents working together with an early interventionist following a family-centred model. ECI sessions help children learn skills they will need as they grow up. Sessions are also useful for parents  to express their priorities and, at the same time, learn how to shape their family’s everyday life to meet their child’s unique needs.

    ECI is about change for the child and the environment in which they live. Early intervention provides families with the tools that will support their child or children overcome a certain condition and/or disability.  It also helps the family change the environment in order to make it safer and more conducive to learning.  Whether or not there is “change” or a “cure,” will depend on the condition of the child. Often , the focus of intervention is to improve the quality of life for both the child and their family by making adaptations to the environment in which the child lives.

1. see References

November 22, 2010   No Comments