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Early Intervention

A child's early years lay the foundation for all that is to come. Early Screening and support help children enter kindergarten ready to learn.

What Is Early Intervention?

Early intervention (EI) is a system of services that are available to all families with young children ages birth to 3 years in every state and territory of the United States.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires these services be available in every community. In Oregon the services are available for children birth to 5 years.

Early intervention services help young children who are at risk for developmental delay or disability or who have been evaluated and diagnosed with a delay. Babies or young children with certain medical conditions may also receive these services. Early intervention focuses on working with parents and young children together to support a young child’s learning and development.

In Oregon there is an effort to provide all families with opportunities to check their child’s early development and make sure development is taking place as expected for their age. When a parent or caregiver has concern or question about a young child’s development, early intervention providers, child care providers and health care providers use standardized measures for a first look at how a baby or young child is doing. This is called Screening. If a child’s screening shows concern for development, further evaluation may be needed. These steps are part of a system of evaluation to check a child’s early development and decide the best steps that families can take to support their child’s development.

Screening and Evaluation tools look at a child’s skills in the 5 basic areas of early development for a child. The results determine if a child’s development is on schedule, if development should be monitored, or whether development is not taking place on schedule for the child’s age. If development is not on schedule, educational or therapeutic services may be needed during this period of a child’s growth.

5 basic areas of development:

  1. Physical — Gross Motor and Fine Motor skills such as reaching, crawling, walking, and using thumb, wrist, fingers in coordination
  2. Cognitive — Problem Solving skills such as thinking, learning
  3. Communication — what a child understands, and how a child uses gestures, sounds, words
  4. Social/Emotional — how a child interacts with others in play and daily routines
  5. Self-Help — such as eating and dressing

Early Intervention Services

If an infant or toddler is at risk for disability or a developmental delay in one or more of these areas, they may be eligible for early intervention services at no cost. Services may also be provided based on priorities and culture of the child’s family. Family-centered services help parents and caregivers understand their child’s special needs and offer ways to support a child’s learning in play and daily routines. When a child is offered services, an Individualized Family Service Plan is written together with parent.

Services offered will depend on what that child and family need. Services may include:

  • Audiology or hearing services
  • Speech and language services
  • Counseling and training for a family
  • Medical services
  • Nursing services
  • Nutrition services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services