Early Intervention: A Guide
Educators must effectively identify a student who needs early intervention, whether for autism, learning disorders, or even reading difficulties. The more serious the issue, the more essential early action becomes.
Definition of Early Intervention
Early intervention is commonly characterized as assistance offered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to help children catch up or remain on par with their classmates. The primary focus is on children who are experiencing developmental or learning difficulties. This includes behavioral or attention issues, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD)/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and cognitive impairments, such as autism.
The Advantages of Early Autism Intervention
The US Department of Health and Human Services collated information from the organizations such as the National Research Council Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism that reveals a significant relationship between early intervention for children with autism and their long-term health, achievement, and abilities. They emphasize the necessity of intervention between the ages of 2-4 years old since this lays the groundwork for programs and practices that help people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) keep up with their peers.
The following five primary abilities are prioritized in ASD early intervention:
- Physical abilities
- Ability to think
- Ability to communicate
- Social abilities
- Emotional abilities
While the focus, as mentioned earlier on the advantages of early intervention for children with autism, many, if not all, of these advantages apply to children with non-ASD delays, issues, and diagnoses.
The Teacher’s Responsibility
Preschool and early elementary (kindergarten-1st grade) educators, perhaps, play an essential role in early intervention since they are the ablest to identify people who require assistance. Educators become involved if parents overlook developmental/learning deficits within the first two years of life and should be on the lookout. While educators beyond the first-grade share responsibilities for recognizing these students, their job shifts to one of continuing and advancing early intervention programs.
The motto of early intervention is “the sooner, the better,” which is backed up by studies and research that demonstrate that the sooner children with developmental issues are recognized and treated, the higher their chances of success are. The RAND Corporation published a study brief describing the early intervention studies they conducted and gathered, emphasizing the importance of these programs not just for people and their households but also for the economy:
“For every dollar invested, the returns to society range from $1.80 to $17.07 [per kid].”
Early intervention programs are essential to the development and prosperity of society’s most vulnerable citizens. These people had little say or no control over their circumstances or settings, putting them in a disadvantaged situation. We owe it to them to be watchful and consistent in ensuring that they have access to the services they require to be healthy and productive members of society.