Early Intervention – Help parenting the special needs infant/toddler

Author: Lisa Simmons

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Early Intervention – Help parenting the special needs infant/toddler by LisaSimmons

“My child is too young for school and special education, but I KNOW that something isn’t right – isn’t there any way for my child to get help now.”

“If you are having similar feelings, the short answer is — “Yes, there ishelp. Trust your instincts and find out everything you can about the EarlyIntervention services available in your community.”

Every parent dreams of having a perfect baby — unfortunately for thousands of families each year, these dreams end when their precious infant is slowto develop or has visible disabilities. It can be tempting for manyfamilies to drift in denial. Hoping that “time” will make everythingbetter. Sometimes, well-intentioned family practitioners even encouragethis type of drifting by responding to parent concerns with comments like,”Don’t worry – different kids develop at different rates, just give himtime.”

Unfortunately, this can be a critical mistake. When a disability isidentified in an infant or young child — early intervention can begin and aquality early intervention program can help fill in the gaps and place aspecial needs child much closer to their same-age peers — in social skills,communication skills, and even physical dexterity.

So what is early intervention?Early intervention applies to children ages 5 or younger that have adisability or are at risk of developing a handicapping condition or otherspecial need that may affect their development. The early interventionsystem is designed to provide services to children and their families thatwill lessen the effects of their condition. Early intervention can befocused on improving existing problem areas or preventing new problems fromoccurring. It can focus on just your child or on service to both your childand your family. It can also occur in any number of places:

At therapy or daycare centers
At home 7 At a hospital
Or in a combination of these places.

Early Intervention services range from identification–that is, screeningand referral services–to diagnostic and direct intervention programs. Early intervention may begin at any time between birth and school age; however, toget the most benefit for your child, it should begin as early as possible.If you are concerned that your infant or toddler may have special needs,here are some excellent resources to check out:

Resource #1: Normal & Atypical Development:
This article discusses the definition of normal and “atypical” developmentand gives important ideas to keep in mind about development. Developmentalmilestones including areas of cognition, language, motor coordination,social interaction, and self-help skills are discussed.

Resource #2: The New Vision for Parents Packet
This packet is available from Zero to Three: The National Center forInfants, Toddlers, & Families and explains the language and process ofdevelopmental assessment in a family friendly style. (Note: Because this site is done in frames I can’t offer you a direct link to the packet.However click here to visit Zero to Three and then type “New Vision” in the search box to find it easily.)

Resource #3: Early Identification Tools
These tools can help you verify your concerns or have more confidence inyour doctors recommendation to “wait & see”. You can also use them as asymptom checklist to go over with your family doctor if you decide torequest that he/she take your concerns seriously and set up formal testing.7 The CSBS DP Infant-Toddler Checklist. This is a free, downloadable checklist (a multiple-choice questionnaire)that can be easily completed by a parent in 5 to 10 minutes. It is a greatfirst step in screening for developmental delays in children from 6 to 24months of age. Instructions for scoring and interpreting the results are available online.

Early Identification tools from Coping.org.
This site offers a variety of tools for parents to use that are designedspecifically to help with early identification and intervention for childbetween the ages of 0-5 years.

Resource #4:
And finally, be sure to read “A Parent’s Guide To AccessingPrograms For Infant, Toddlers, and Preschoolers With Disabilities”

This guide will help you learn how to find and get the most out of the early intervention resources available in your community. However bumpy a start your parenting journey may have had, take heart. Yourchild is unique, special and able to bring your heart years of joy that youcan only imagine today!

By identifying his/her special needs early, you can rest assured that you are giving your child the best possible chance for a successful life.) 2004, Lisa Simmons. All Rights Reserved. Lisa is the creator of the IdealLives Online Advocacy & Inclusion Center.

The Center supports parent sraising children with special needs by providing tools, resources, and information needed to get results. The focus — making support simple andconnecting advocates to answers.

To take the Ideal Lives learning community for a test drive, visit Lisa at Ideal Lives

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