July 2021 – After the NICU

Jenny R. McCormick, Senior Editor of PreemieWorld

Not all preemies who were born early will need early intervention, but they are at risk for many conditions that make them eligible for early intervention. What is early intervention and what types of interventions are offered?

Early Intervention: Early intervention is a group of federally funded programs carried out by by each individual state in the U.S. and in regions across the globe. Basically, early intervention helps families and young children who have a developmental concern to make sure that these children grow to their greatest potential. Early intervention services are offered from birth to age three.

Services: Because regions design different early intervention programs, services offered may vary. Early intervention is provided in many different settings, and always in the best place for the child. Early intervention might be provided in the child’s home, in a daycare setting, or in a local clinic.

Types of Interventions: Early Intervention services may include some of the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Aqua therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Vision therapy
  • Play therapy

How to Sign up Your Baby for Early Intervention Services: Early intervention should start as early as possible. If your child seems to be showing signs of a developmental delay or having trouble in other areas, talk with your pediatrician. You can also contact the Early Intervention coordinators in your state: https://day2dayparenting.com/early-intervention-contacts-by-state/ (for programs outside of the United States, ask your child’s doctor for a referral).

What Services to Use: The first step in early intervention is a complete assessment of the child. After the assessment, the family and caseworkers will write an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for the child. This plan lists all of the information about the child’s early intervention program, including areas of need, goals of service, specific services to be provided, and the timeline for the program.

Does Early Intervention Work?: Early intervention has been very helpful to premature babies. A study published in 2013 found that early interventions could even help reduce anxiety and depression in mothers of preterm infants. https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2393-13-S1-S10

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