All young children who have been identified with any disability, whether physical or mental, should have access to affordable and high-quality early intervention services.
According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, these interventions should address the child’s specific needs, be delivered in an inclusive environment, build on the strengths and participation of both the child and family, and be responsive to their family priorities and culture.
While research affirms the importance of early intervention for young children with disabilities, both the quality of and access to intervention services remains inadequate. The Early Intervention Program of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) should be fully funded and authorized in order to protect and safeguard these children in need of care. To read more about the IDEA, visit: https://sites.ed.gov/idea.
According to the Urban Child Institute, currently 16% to 18% of young children have disabilities or developmental delays. Early intervention can literally be a lifesaver for these children. Identification, support and and assistance beginning at a young age can provide the best possible results in developmental growth, and allows families to meet the needs of their children. Babies and toddlers with developmental disabilities must be identified and served as early as possible.
Research and experts in early intervention have found that once children have been identified and begin receiving services, it’s crucial to collaborate with families, service-providers, and peers. Children with developmental delays should be able to participate in the same education, health, social, and recreational services that children without disabilities access. Programs that support families with specifically tailored services for young children have the greatest impact. Monitoring and evaluation to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of services is also needed.
The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities, or Part C of the IDEA, is a federal program that provides grants to fund statewide programs of supports for children from birth through 2 years old with developmental delays that can hamper their education. The New Jersey Early Intervention System has a great deal of information online. For help with identification and services, visit: http://nj.gov/health/fhs/eis/for-families
All children develop at different paces, but there are some setbacks that experts do recognize as meeting the criteria for developmental delays. If you suspect your child may have a developmental delay, talk with your pediatrician about any concerns, and familiarize yourself with developmental benchmarks for infants and toddlers. A good checklist to consult is, “Your Child’s Development: Important Milestones from Birth - 36 Months,” published by New Jersey’s Early Intervention System, and which can be found at: Download Here