I am biased toward early intervention.
I teach Special Education, and I hold a birth-3 certificate alongside my regular elementary - 21 certificate.
My child has received excellent early intervention services.
So it is with total and complete bias that I present these thoughts, which are entirely my own.
I love early intervention (EI).
This blog has contained many, many love notes to our EI team. And this is my chance, thanks to Lisa's blog hop, to spell out the reasons behind my love for EI, as well as to explain the limits I see.
Ellie has Down syndrome, resulting in an intellectual disability, gross motor delays, speech delays, and fine motor delays. (Socially, she is more or less on target at this time, and that is the only area we don't address specifically through therapies.)
No amount of early intervention can or should rid my daughter of Down syndrome. It's in every cell of her body and has been since before she was born. Although I believe Ellie is more alike other kids than different, she has some significant differences. Early intervention won't remove the differences.
I believe that early intervention has helped my daughter learn to do things (eat, speak, hopefully walk) in ways that will benefit her long term development, and has caught some of her "bad habits" that could cause later postural or health issues. Early intervention has also helped me learn new ways to teach Ellie.
Sometimes, Ellie fusses about therapies and we joke about her strong opinions, but the truth in our situation is that our therapists know exactly how hard to push. If they feel like Ellie has been unhappy with therapy, they show up for a "repair session" - just hanging out and repairing the relationship. Ellie's therapists have also helped encourage me as a new mama who is raising a child with unique needs. They tell me what I'm doing right, and give me ideas to encourage Ellie's development.
Ellie is limited to 2 hours of therapy per week, plus consults. The biggest weeks are three hours total. I know some families opt for me, but to me, that's the limit for a baby/toddler. We're starting the process to determine services for Ellie next school year, and I assume she'll qualify for a Pre-K two-year old program. Sending my toddler to school is less scary because it's a hand off from one great team to (presumably) another great team. I imagine that for parents unfamiliar with the IEP process, EI eases the transition into school based special education.
I love EI because it works for my kid. I think Ellie is learning skills that will help her be more successful in the classroom. And I care about her success in the classroom a lot, because I'm a teacher. I also know full well that her classroom success won't determine her fate in life.
Early intervention cannot define my child. More therapies can't make her more loving, more giving, more entertaining, and better able to interact with her peers. Therapy can help her walk, talk, and conquer academic tasks, but I think Ellie's future rests on her social skills.
I want Ellie to get what she needs to be successful in school. Early intervention is a step toward giving her what she needs. I have every expectation that Ellie has a disability that will impact her access to general education and require special educational services/accommodations through high school.
And I'm glad that the same folks who walked me through the first 1.9 years will remain my friends for the next 19. I hope.
Linked up here - check it out!
What has been your experience with EI? Love it?