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Early Intervention – Let’s get talking!

Have you ever had a concern about your child regarding their development? “Just wait and see,” is advice we often hear, but is just waiting best for every child and family?  It is true that all children develop differently. However, if you have concerns regarding your child’s development, early intervention is always a great idea! 

What is Early Intervention?  

Early intervention is intended for children from birth to 3 years of age.  Early intervention targets all areas of a child’s development.

  • Cognitive (a child’s learning and problem solving skills).
  • Motor / Sensory (seeing, hearing, walking).
  • Communication skills (listening, comprehension, gestures, and talking).
  • Self help/adaptive (eating, dressing, and other life skills).
  • Social – emotional skills (understanding thoughts & feelings, playing with others).

When enrolled in an early intervention program, a team of therapists is built to create a personalized plan for each child.  Together as a team, the therapists will work hand in hand with the child’s caregivers in order to monitor and build upon the child’s developmental skills. 

Two key aspects of early intervention are: 

1) Working with the caregivers.
2) Starting early.  

How do I enroll my child in Early Intervention?  

If you have concerns about your child’s development you do not have to obtain a doctor’s referral in order to seek early intervention services.  Each state has a program specifically designed for early intervention services in which parents can reach out directly to request an evaluation for their child. 

In order to discover more information regarding your state specific program you can: 

  • Contact a trusted doctor, teacher, or local health department.
  • Call the State Department of Education or Health.
  • Conduct a Google search: “(state name) early intervention.”

Once you have been referred to your state led program, a service coordinator will contact you and guide you through each step of the process.  Your child will receive an evaluation in order to determine if you are indeed a candidate for early intervention services. 

Does APT provide Early Intervention services? 

Yes! 

APT works directly with Kentucky’s state-led program, “First Steps.”  If you are enrolling in  Kentucky’s First Steps program and would like to have an APT therapist as your provider, you can contact your service coordinator.  Simply let them know that you would like to have an APT therapist. 

What can I do if my child did not qualify for my state led early intervention program? 

Although each state led program is a wonderful resource, it is not the only way to receive early intervention services for your child. Early intervention services can also be obtained through one of our outpatient facilities and/or through teletherapy intervention services.  Depending on your concerns, your child may be evaluated for physical, occupational, and/or speech-language services.  Contact us here to begin the process of enrolling your child.  

What are the types of Early Intervention? 

APT provides various types of early intervention.  Your child may qualify for one or more disciplines.  It is also common for developmental skills to overlap across multiple therapeutic disciplines. 

  • Physical therapy 

Physical therapy targets a child’s ability to move and function independently across all natural environments. Physical therapists will assess a child’s motor development, movement and body function. 

  • Occupational therapy

The goal of occupational therapy is to assist your child in becoming independent in fine motor, sensory motor, and visual motor skills in order to participate in daily routines and activities. 

  • Speech-language therapy

The goal of speech and language therapy is to increase a child’s ability to understand and express language through both verbal and/or non-verbal means of communication. 

It is important to note that developmental skills often overlap across therapeutic disciplines.  If your child is receiving services from more than one discipline, therapists will work together to create a cohesive plan.  This allows carryover of skills across each discipline in order to target all domains of development. 

What does early intervention therapy look like at APT?

Therapy looks like FUN!  A child’s best method of learning is through play and exploration.  While observing a therapy session you may be thinking to yourself, “Are they just playing?”

Pediatric therapists are skilled in using play and engaging activities in order to target specific skills for your child.   Does your child love to play with trucks and farm toys?  You could expect to see your speech therapist utilizing a toy barn in order to model early developing sounds such as animal noises.  They may also target early language concepts such as prepositions on/off or in/out all while expanding your child’s pretend play skills!

Whether your child receives speech, occupational, physical therapy, or multiple disciplines you can expect to see team collaboration. You can also expect to be a very important member of your child’s early intervention team! Caregiver involvement is key to success in early intervention.  Therapists will provide education along with specific ideas that can be easily worked into your family’s daily routines. Therapists work with caregivers to provide education and empower them to further support their child’s development. Learned skills from therapy are more likely to be generalized to a child’s home environment when caregivers are also implementing activities frequently.

Jenna Walker, SLP