As parents, our biggest responsibility often lies in making the best happen for our child. Keeping track of their development is almost second nature to us parents. We’ve all been there, wondering if our babies show good eye contact, do they respond to our interaction, if they should be crawling yet or saying their first words. While it might seem demanding to keep a dated record of all their development, there are broad timelines that most babies meet, in reaching social, behavioural and physical milestones. If and when we do see our children missing these critical stepping stones of development, we need to reach out for help at the earliest and that is exactly what early intervention is.
It means identifying and providing effective early support to children with developmental delays or disabilities or are at risk of poor outcomes. The important timeline of birth to three years is when a baby’s brain develops most connections and is highly adaptable. Over time this adaptability reduces, making it harder to form new connections which are the foundation for learning and behaviour, therefore making early intervention of utmost importance. It can be of various forms, including physical therapy, speech therapy, behaviour therapy and also counselling and training families.
Why is Early Intervention Important?
Earlier is the best!!! Doctors and therapists cannot stress this enough and here’s why. A baby’s development is rapid in the first three years of life. Getting help at the earliest can improve and change the course of a child’s development. It can help the child catch up with peers and have a significant impact on the child’s ability to learn and master new skills. The earlier you start intervention, the greater the chances of success a child has in achieving their full potential.
It’s not that it’s too late at any point in time to get help but getting help immediately and early will definitely be more effective when provided earlier in life rather later. Eg; if it’s autism, early intervention can help the child develop communication, social and play skills that they lack before the absence of those skills causes frustration and behaviour problems which often happens with children with Autism. It would only cause more challenges if we decided to wait it out or assume it would go away with time. Effective early intervention helps to tackle problems head-on before they get worse or the development gap widens
- Reduces the need for specialized programmes during the schooling years: Early intervention means the child gets help at the most crucial stage when it can be most effective. This sets the stage for academic readiness, developing skills and abilities that they will need in their schooling years. It will leave them better equipped to catch up with their peers in time. The progress they make in these early stages will help them achieve age-appropriate developmental milestones.
- Improves communication: Delayed communication and language problems are often the first signs of a developmental delay. Treating these delays at the earliest can prevent them from further developing into behavioural and social interaction issues. Early intervention can help children express themselves and their needs better and generally feel more understood by those around them.
- Makes learning fun: Early intervention is aimed at helping the child comprehensively in all areas. The programme is designed to support the child and their family in everyday activities. This ensures children not only learn through play but also in learning basic self-care skills, like brushing, dressing up, eating meals etc. Intervention offers support to parents to understand their child’s needs and trains parents with innovative and effective strategies to help children develop everyday skills. Children show better progress when strategies are repeated and incorporated into their routines.
- Helps families cope better: Early intervention programmes not only benefit the child but also their families. Receiving help at the earliest means that parents and other family members also receive training, information and guidance in better meeting the needs of the child. It can also help them cope better with the challenges their child faces, reduce anxiety about their future and help them form more effective strategies for communication, learning and behaviour. It can provide much-needed support to parents, making them feel confident about managing their child’s needs.
- Early Intervention helps the child reach their true potential. The human brain develops rapidly and makes strong connections in the first few years of life. Receiving help at this crucial stage helps children to catch up on developmental lags and overcome the challenges it brings. Early intervention helps foster a child’s already existing strengths and build skills they lack, thereby helping them feel set for later years.
How to Get Help?
If you notice a lag or delay in your baby’s development, do not hit the panic button. Very often it might be a delay in a single area that your child might only take slightly longer to attain. However, act on it and act early if you are concerned about your child’s progress. Contact your paediatrician and talk to them about your concerns. If your doctor feels there is a need for further investigation and observation, ask for a referral to get in touch with a specialist or therapist. You know your child best, get them help at the right time.
As a parent, if you have concerns about your child’s development, we are eager to help. Reach out to us at Tactopus. We have a great team of therapists who can help you and your child, as early and best as possible.