When RaceCar was placed with us at 18 months, I was immediately exposed to the wonderful world of early intervention. As if becoming a mom overnight wasn’t overwhelming enough, no more than 2 hours after has placement, the calls began to come in from therapist after therapist to set up appointments.
My little man was already enrolled in Early Intervention (EI), so I just had to get educated on what it is. EI is an umbrella of services available for infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays to help them learn key skills and hopefully “catch up” with their development. Children are eligible for EI services up to age 3. The areas of concentration are:
- Gross motor
- Fine motor
By law, Early Intervention services are available in every state in the U.S. If you feel your child has a delay, you can request an evaluation to see if they are eligible for services. Some children are eligible from birth; specifically children born with certain conditions, very premature birth, and/or low birth weight. More typically, developmental milestones are not met within the specified time frame and a physician will refer your child for an evaluation. However, parents do not have to wait for a referral, if you feel there is a delay, it is best to get an evaluation.
We have been blessed with a GREAT early intervention team! Many of them meet with RaceCar weekly and we share in the joy of his development. I won’t tell his whole story, but when he was placed with us, he was not yet walking and had what amounted to 6 month global delays. Basically, he was chronologically 18 months, but in every way was developmentally where a 12 month old would be.
We recently celebrated his 2nd birthday and many of his delays are gone. He is now in what is considered normal for speech, developmental, fine motor and social. In other words – a rambunctious 2 year old who thinks he is invincible! His gross motor is still slightly behind, but that is strengthening every day.
I attribute this to wonderful EI team that has been there every step of the way. Each specialist creates a customized report of activities we can do together at home. I attend some of the sessions, but they will also meet with him independently at his day care.
What is considered “normal development” is vague and varies wildly from child to child. For example, normal walking emerges between 8-18 mos. That is a 10-month gap! You will drive yourself crazy trying to chart every milestone, but don’t ignore your instincts. If you feel there is a delay, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a FREE evaluation. Studies show that children with delays that are mitigated early have a greater success rate.
RaceCar’s EI team is predicting that he will “graduate” out of services before he turns 3!
If your child is enrolled in EI services, a coordinator will meet with you and set up an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for your child depending on what services are needed. Evaluations are conducted every 6 months to see if goals are being met, need to be adjusted, and re-certify for eligibility.
Common developmental milestones for the 1st year include:
Briefly lifting head – 1 month
Tracking objects – 3 months
Sitting w/o help – 4-7 months
Sit on his own / Cruising – 8-12 months
You can read more about milestones at BabyCenter, but the best advice is going to come from your child’s pediatrician.
By taking advantage of Early Intervention services, you have nothing to use and everything to gain. I’m grateful for RaceCar’s team and the support they have provided. If a child does need additional services after age 3, early childhood takes over from there.
What about you?
Do you have any experience with Early Intervention services?