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Early childhood education ranges from infant to preschool age. During this time some children may be identified as having developmental delays and needing intervention. The early child intervention strategies used will integrate the help from teachers, counselors, and parents as well. The first step towards getting help for a child would be an evaluation and testing to assess for detected symptoms. Depending on what symptoms are noticed, there are a variety of tests which can be conducted leading to a diagnosis and eventually therapy.
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Milestones and Delays
Early childhood intervention strategies may come up as an option if you notice developmental delays with your child. Some common developmental delays will be noticed in areas such as cognitive, social, emotional, adaptive, language, sensory, and motor. Delays or a need for concern will depend on how old the child is and what may be normal for his or her age. Here are some milestone examples:
3 months old:
- Reacting to loud sounds
- Turns toward bright lights
- Recognizes parents voices
- Reaches for hair or toys
- Lifts head while on stomach
- Lifts shoulders while on stomach
6 months old:
- Reaches for toys and picks the toys up
- Responds to name
- Holds bottles
- Recognizes family members faces
- Sits up and leans forward on his or her hands
- Use of simple words such as “mom"
- Plays games such as peek-a-boo
- Walks while holding onto furniture
- Uses two or more words together to form a simple sentence “No more" or “Yes please"
- Feeds self with spoon
- Recognizes parts of face (nose, eyes)
- Shows affection for family members
- Uses three to five word sentences
- Plays with other children
- Alternates feet while walking up steps
- Can dress self
While these are only some of the milestones and this is only used as a guideline, there may be no need for concern if a child is showing a possible developmental delay. A developmental delay may be noticed if the child seems to be falling behind in some areas. Of course it is always better to be safe than sorry because evaluating early will be beneficial while catching a developmental delay later on may cause harm to the developmental process
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Assessments and Testing
Once a parent notices there may be some cause for concern they can discuss this with their pediatricians or family practitioner. The family doctor will then refer the child out for an evaluation by a counselor, psychologists, pediatric neurologist etc. All states have an early childhood intervention program in place. To find out more about your state’s program you can find the resource below.
To see if your child qualifies for early intervention services by your state, the child will be evaluated using a Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation. This type of evaluation is when a team of professionals evaluates the child using overall knowledge as well as specialized skills in areas including cognitive development, physical development, communication, social-emotional development, and adaptive development.
If the child is shown to have a developmental delay then he or she will be assessed to create a plan of action. The assessment will actually occur throughout the whole process of early intervention. Doctors' notes, progress notes on therapy, developmental test results, medical history, and observations may be used to assess the child through the intervention process.
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Early childhood intervention strategies depends on the type of developmental delay the child has as well as how the child is diagnosed. Normally, interventions may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological counseling, vision therapy, and physical therapy.
Speech Therapy: This type of therapy would be used for language and communication delays. It focuses on speech, language, oropharyngeal, and cognitive factors in communication.
Occupational Therapy: Is aimed at helping developmental delays associated with cognitive, motor, sensory, play skills, and communication. Goals and therapy interventions are set up depending on what skill the child needs to work on. An example may be if child can not properly grasp foods or small items with her fingers. The occupational therapist will then focus activities on grasping and picking up small items.
Physical Therapy: Will provide therapy intervention for gross motor delays and physical development. An example can be if a child has a delay with walking. The physical therapist will use techniques to help diminish the delay and fine tune the child's walking.
Vision Therapy: Can actually be referred to as physical therapy for the eyes. If there is an eye problem such as lazy eye, double vision, or crossed eyes, these issues can be fixed using vision therapy.
Psychological Counseling: Counseling sessions can be made available not only for the children but also also for the family, provided individually or in family sessions.
These are only some of the options available for early childhood intervention strategies. These options can be performed in the classroom, home, or even an agency setting.