Early Intervention is low- or no-cost services mandated by the US Congress for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Physicians routinely refer these services to children at risk of a developmental delays or disability.
Early intervention services were mandated by the US Congress in 1986 through Public Law 105-17.
Designed to provide early, intensive interventions to children who have been identified as at-risk for developmental delays, the services “enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities and minimize their potential for developmental delay.”
According to Public Law 105-17, “Early Intervention [is] a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.”
States use federal grant money to provide services, administered by each state and provided within parameters set by the federal government. States also establish eligibility criteria in line with federal criteria.
Because early intervention for children with autism is critical to ensuring the most positive outcome possible, these services are a crucial part of treatment for autism.
Children who qualify for early intervention services have a delay or disability in one or more of the following developmental areas: cognitive, adaptive, physical, communicative, and social and emotional development.
Your pediatrician may offer you information about these services as part of the screening and/or assessment process. If he or she does not offer information about these services, be sure to ask about where you can find out more.
Screening and assessment, counseling, family training and home visits, speech, occupational, and physical therapy, as well as social work services are some of the services offered. The services are offered at no cost to families except for a few exceptions.
To learn more about early intervention resources in your state, see the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s State Part C Coordinator Contact Listing.