The team of speech language pathologists (SLPs) at The Warren Center, a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities –are an essential part of any early intervention treatment plan.
Early intervention (EI) is the process of delivering services and support to children from birth to three years old and their families who may have or be at risk for a developmental delay, disability, or health condition that may affect development. The purpose of EI is to reduce the impact of a disability or delay by addressing identified needs of young children across five developmental areas: cognitive development, communication development, physical development, including vision and hearing; social or emotional development and adaptive development.
"The earlier that services are delivered, the more likely children are to develop effective communication, language, and swallowing skills and achieve successful learning outcomes," says Amy Spawn, CEO of The Warren Center. "Early intervention services are critical because young children grow and develop so quickly. If they do not receive services before they are five years old, it can have lasting effects."
As a part of early intervention services, families may work with a team of childhood intervention professionals, including speech-language pathologists (SLPs). SLPs play a vital role in EI – they are trained to provide services to families and their young children who demonstrate or are at risk of developing delays or disabilities in communication, speech, language, cognition, emergent literacy, feeding and swallowing. These services may include the following:
- Address typical developmental norms from birth to age five years across domains
- Engage in prevention and early identification activities to promote healthy development and reduce risk factors that can impact a child's development
- Conduct screening, evaluation, and assessment to identify young children with, or at risk for, a delay or disorder
- Establish eligibility for services and guiding the development of an intervention program
- Make referrals to other professionals and inform the referral source of the outcome of the eligibility process, with the family's consent
- Develop a plan for implementing services and supports (i.e., the IFSP or an equivalent) that includes speech-language pathology intervention approaches, methods, and settings. An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a written document and a process that parents and a group of professionals create to ensure favored outcomes for their child's early intervention program. It outlines the recommended ECI services for their child and details when, where, and how the SLP will deliver these services. Think of the IFSP as a map or guidebook that helps keep early childhood specialists on track.
- Collaborate with families, caregivers, agencies, and other professionals involved in the IFSP team to help them implement intervention strategies in everyday routines
- Support family interactions that reflect cultural beliefs, values, and priorities
- Coordinate services (including evaluation and assessment, development of an IFSP, and access to resources) and ensuring they are implemented as agreed upon by the team.
- Participate in transition planning to ensure a seamless transition and timely access to services for families moving from one program to another (e.g., from hospital to community-based intervention; from IDEA Part C EI services to Part B school-based services)
The CDC estimates one in six children have intellectual or physical disabilities or delays. In Dallas County alone, over 102,000 children have a developmental disability. The period between birth to five years is a time of rapid development. The earliest possible intervention is critical due to the accelerated brain development during these first years of life. Early childhood intervention programs have been shown to yield benefits in academic achievement, behavior, educational progression and attainment, and labor market success.
The Warren Center Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program serves children, ages birth to three years old, with developmental delays or disabilities. The Warren Center's team of early childhood specialists, therapists, social workers, and other professionals conduct evaluations and provide services to children and their families at home where they live, learn and play. The Warren Center's team of highly skilled therapists is ready to help children with developmental delays and disabilities reach their full potential with early childhood intervention. To request services, parents are encouraged to fill out a form on the nonprofit's website or call 972-490-9055 to learn more about Early Childhood Intervention services.