Early Childhood Intervention
Early Childhood Intervention just means doing things, including seeking therapy, as soon as possible to support your child’s developmental needs. It is the best way to support any child with a developmental delay or disability.
Early childhood intervention programs provide specialised support for children under seven who may not be reaching their developmental milestones. The early childhood years lay the foundation for all future development and learning, so getting support early can make a huge difference later in life.
Early Intervention is Vital – whether your child has a formal diagnosis or not.
The NDIS approach endorses early-intervention as best practice, whether the child has a formal diagnosis or not, recommending that health professionals working with children 0-6 that are experiencing developmental delay, concerns or disability, including how the child plays or moves around, takes care of themselves, socialises with others and communicates, seek early intervention.
The NDIS early childhood early intervention (ECEI) approach, promotes quick access to support, ensuring that children under seven with a developmental disability or developmental delay receive quick access to supports that are tailored to their individual needs. So, even if your child does not have any formal diagnosis and is not an NDIS Participant, if they are aged 0-6 and meet developmental delay criteria, they may be able to access funding for early intervention support from the NDIS
What is a Developmental Milestone?
Developmental milestones are very important. They offer clues about a child’s developmental health. If a child is reaching milestones at the typical age, it indicates that the child is developing as expected. If the child is not achieving its developmental milestones, either at all or much later than typically developing children, it may be an indication that a child may have developmental delay. A list of developmental milestones is provided here.
Children that don’t meet developmental milestones may require extra support and services to reach their potential. Milestones can be categorised into one or more of these four developmental domains:
- Movement / Physical Development – this domain is about how children use their bodies. It includes many of the milestones parents excitedly wait for, like crawling and walking but also a host of important ones like primitive reflex integration, eating with a spoon, cross body movements and going to the toilet.
- Communication and language – this domain is about how children express their needs and share what they are thinking as well as understanding what is being said to them. Examples include babbling, pointing and following directions.
- Cognitive – this domain is about how children learn new things, explore their environment and problem solve. Examples include reaching for a toy with one hand cross body, engaging and holding eye contact, building a block tower, understanding cause and effect.
- Social and emotional development – this domain is about how children interact with others and show emotion. Examples include smiling spontaneously at people, pointing at things of interest, cooperative play, imitation and showing affection to friends without prompting.
If you are concerned about your child’s developmental health, please click here to make an appointment to see our Physiotherapist, who can provide a developmental assessment or see your GP or Health Professional.
The science is clear – the earlier the intervention for developmental delay the better.
What is an Early Childhood Intervention Program?
Early childhood intervention services help children to increase their skills and actively take part in everyday activities. The intervention, which is just another word for therapy, will help advance your child’s developmental progress and ultimately help your child to learn things like self-care skills, play skills, and fine and gross motor skills, so they can reach their full potential. Early childhood intervention services can reduce the amount of supports needed later in life while assisting families with learning how to best support their child and manage expectations.
An early intervention program should be designed to help children progress up the developmental pathway, primarily across these four developmental domains:
- Movement / Physical Development
- Communication and language
- Social and emotional development
Early Intervention and Autism
Early intervention targets children aged 0-6. In this period, a young child’s brain is still forming, meaning it is more “plastic” or changeable than at older ages. Because of this plasticity, called neuroplasticity, treatments have a better chance of being effective in the longer term. Whilst the brain maintains its “plastic” state until early adulthood, the early years are the most “plastic”. Early interventions not only give children the best start possible, but also the best chance of developing to their full potential. The sooner a child gets help, the greater the chance for learning and progress.
Selecting an early intervention program for your child with autism can be overwhelming. Unlike other areas of childhood health, an autism diagnosis doesn’t come with a ready-prepared treatment plan and a network of health professionals to help implement it. In most cases, it is up to parents or carers to do their own research and navigate their way through the multiple available options.
What should we consider when assessing Early Intervention?
From a technical perspective, and as prescribed by the NDIS through its practice standards, an early intervention therapy should:
- Be child centred and developmentally appropriate;
- Be family centered, which means the service is working towards family-based goals;
- Be evidence-based – which is a decision-making process that integrates the best available research evidence with family and professional wisdom . In other words, evidence-based practice involves a balance of empirically supported interventions, clinical expertise or practice wisdom, and client or family values, preferences and circumstances;
- Be individualised to the child;
- Be strengths-based and use positive reinforcement;
- Include assessments providing baseline data with progress measures;
- Provide an opportunity for regular feedback and problem solving and
- Ensure the child can practice and use new skills out in the community (not just in therapy)
Children often benefit from a range of therapies, which is called a multidisciplinary approach. When managed and coordinated effectively, this approach encourages a more functionally targeted treatment for autism, where therapists work collaboratively to achieve functional goals rather than provide a specific service. The combination of therapies will then likely change as the child’s goals change, reinforcing the need for a highly individualised therapeutic intervention and treatment plan.
Welcome to the Brain Train way!
Brain Train was founded by the parents of Chloe, following her autism diagnosis. Their worldwide search for more effective treatment options, and their conviction that all Australian children with autism deserved the same opportunities. We understand the frustration and dedication of parents committed to finding better autism treatment opportunities for their children, and we welcome our community of kids with autism as family.
Accordingly, Brain Train delivers integrated, individualised, evidence-informed supports and therapies for children and adults with autism, developmental and neurological differences. So everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential and live their best life….just like Chloe.
Our multi-disciplinary approach, where our therapists can help design a schedule of therapy to suit the strengths, challenges and needs of your child, include:
Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm
Saturday 8am – 4pm