Early Intervention in most cases, is the initial form of therapy most young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or any other developmental disorder start with. It is known as EI and it is a state funded program that helps developmentally challenged children. Every state runs their EI program differently with many different regulations and requirements. Early Intervention in most states is provided to children from birth through 3 years old. The program is state sponsored but utilizes private companies to provide specific services to the children.
The services that EI provides vary from state to state, but some of the most popular therapies and interventions include, Developmental Intervention, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy. Information on EI programs are usually found on the social services section of your states website. They will have a place on the site to apply for services, however, most states will also require a prescription for an evaluation from your child’s pediatrician.
Once you have the referral from the pediatrician and complete the application on the state website you will get a call from an intervention provider and they will schedule an evaluation for your child. The evaluation usually takes 1.5-2 hours and includes 2 different evaluators. One is usually more of a case manager and the other a therapist or even Behaviorist. (The individuals doing the evaluations really vary based on the state).
Once you start receiving services you will notice that most of the sessions are an hour long. Young children do not usually have the attention span to do much longer than an hour. If you know anything about ABA Therapy you know that those sessions can be much longer, even up to 6 hours long. EI is not like that and it is definitely not ABA. ABA is usually a much more rigid form of intervention and EI is more relaxed and flexible.
One thing research has taught us over the year’s is that the earlier you get your child services the better the potential outcome is. So, if you think your child has any developmental delays or you have any concerns at all, push your pediatrician to refer you for an evaluation. Time is on your side when you have a young child so take advantage of it!