Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention Services

If you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, you will find yourself introduced to many professionals who are available and eager to help you begin Early Intervention Services.

“Early Intervention Services” is the umbrella term for an array of assistive programs, exams, or techniques to help a child with special needs live a better life.

Early intervention services may include the following:

  • Audiology
  • Assistive Technology
  • Counseling/Psychological
  • Family training, counseling and home visits
  • Medical Evaluation (for diagnostic purposes only)
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Service Coordination
  • Social Work
  • Special Instruction
  • Speech/Language
  • Transportation
  • Vision

It is important for you to understand how each Early Intervention Services professional can help you specifically throughout your experience with autism.

  • Administering psychological and developmental tests and other assessment procedures.

  • Interpreting assessment results.

  • Obtaining, integrating, and interpreting information about child behavior; and child and family conditions related to learning, mental health, and development.

  • Planning and managing a program of psychological services including psychological counseling for children and parents, family counseling, consultation on child development, parent training, and education programs.

Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Identification of children with communicative or oropharyngeal disorders and delays in development of communication skills, including the diagnosis and appraisal of specific disorders and delays in those skills.

  • Referral for medical or other professional services necessary for the habilitation or rehabilitation of children with communicative or oropharyngeal disorders and delays in development of communication skills.

  • Provision of services for the habilitation, rehabilitation, or prevention of communicative or oropharyngeal disorders and delays in development of communication skills.

  • Cued Language Services: provide a visual communication system that makes the sounds of spoken language look different from one another.

  • Sign Language Services: provide services using a system of conventional symbols or gestures made with the hands to help deaf or hard-of-hearing children communicate or families who are mature users of sign language to benefit from and understand other early intervention services.

Social Workers
  • Training families, implementing counseling, and making at-home visits: assist the family in understanding the special needs of the child and enhancing the child’s development with everyday tasks and tools.

  • Making home visits to evaluate a child’s living conditions and patterns of parent-child interaction.

  • Preparing a social or emotional developmental assessment of the child within the family context.

  • Providing individual and family-group counseling with parents and other family members and appropriate social skill-building activities with the child and parents.

  • Working with those problems in the living situation (home, community, and any center where early intervention services are provided) of an infant or toddler with a disability and the family of that child that affect the child’s maximum utilization of early intervention services

  • Identifying, mobilizing, and coordinating community resources and services to enable the child and family to receive maximum benefit from early intervention services.

Occupational Therapists
  • Address the functional needs of a child related to adaptive development, adaptive behavior and play; and sensory, motor, and postural development. These services are designed to improve the child’s functional ability to perform tasks in home, school, and community settings.

  • Identification, assessment, and intervention.

  • Adaptation of the environment; and selection, design, and fabrication of assistive and orthotic devices to facilitate development and promote the acquisition of functional skills.

  • Prevention or minimization of the impact of initial/future impairment, delay in development, or loss of functional ability.

Physical Therapists
  • Addressing the promotion of sensorimotor function through enhancement of musculoskeletal status, neurobehavioral organization, perceptual and motor development, cardiopulmonary status, and effective environmental adaptation.

  • Screening, evaluation, and assessment of infants and toddlers to identify movement dysfunction.

  • Obtaining, interpreting, and integrating information appropriate to program planning to prevent, alleviate, or compensate for movement dysfunction and related functional problems.

  • Providing individual and group services or treatment to prevent, alleviate, or compensate for movement dysfunction and related functional problems.

  • Identification of children with auditory impairment, using at risk criteria and appropriate audiologic screening techniques.

  • Determination of the range, nature, and degree of hearing loss and communication functions by use of audiological evaluation procedures.

  • Referral for medical and other services necessary for the habilitation or rehabilitation of children with auditory impairment.

  • Provision of auditory training, aural rehabilitation, speech reading and listening device orientation and training, and other services.

  • Provision of services for prevention of hearing loss.

  • Determination of the child’s need for individual amplification; including selecting, fitting, and dispensing appropriate listening and vibrotactile devices and evaluating the effectiveness of those devices.

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians
  • Evaluate children who are at high risk for developmental delays

  • Work with children and families to determine each patient’s needs and develop specific recommendations

  • Work together with families and therapists to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which outlines the types of therapy to be given and the child’s goals. Included in an IFSP:

- Child’s present levels of functioning and need in the areas of his or her physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and adaptive development

- Family information, including the resources, priorities, and parent concerns, and other family members closely involved with the child

- The major results or outcomes expected to be achieved for a child and family

- The specific early intervention services a child will be receiving

- Where in the natural environment (e.g., home, community) the services will be provided

- When and where a child will receive services

- The number of days or sessions he or she will receive each service and how long each session will last

- Who will pay for the services

- The name of the service coordinator overseeing the implementation of the IFSP

- The steps to be taken to support a child’s transition out of early intervention and into another program when the time comes.

  • Provide information and resources to families to help them get the right services or support in their community.

  • Monitor a child’s progress and paying extra attention to health and behavior challenges

Child Neurologists
  • Conduct a neurological exam, which focuses on the child’s muscle tone, strength, reflexes and coordination

  • A comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment is done to screen for medical, developmental, nutritional and behavioral concerns.

  • Based on the exam, determine what areas are delayed and what types of therapies are necessary

  • Assess a child’s progress and makes referrals to community resources.

  • Provide individualized treatment: self-care training, fine motor training, sensory processing regulation, social/play development and speech therapy and communication skills.