Intervention? How early and how much will it impede in our lives?
Early intervention is a group of services that help children 0-3 with developmental delays or disabilities It is used to help your children learn brand new and basic skills that develop in children aged 0-3. This includes children with Down syndrome.
These services include: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, developmental therapy, behavioral therapy, nutrition, medical, and assistive technologies. Your doctor will usually make the referral to your states program and you’ll be contacted to set up a meeting. It is there they will explain how their program works (every state is different). This will happen shortly after you bring your beautiful new baby home.
When should you start early intervention? Just like that extra chromosome, it’s different for every child. Studies show early intervention does make a difference. The evaluator will come to your home to observe your child and will then make recommendations. The recommendations will include what type of therapy they need at the moment and how often, if at all.
The goal for therapy is to help your child get to the milestones a little faster, how to use the right muscles, and learning important skills by repetition. Your child will meet their milestones when they are ready. On the other hand more therapy does not mean that milestones will come more quickly and because they come quickly, it will fix delays in your child. A big positive from early intervention is you learn about your child and how to have a dialogue with your treatment team.
Some of the questions/concerns I hear a lot is: How will this impede in our lives? How many therapies will my child need to participate in? What about other siblings? What about work? How am I supposed to work on so many different things with my child and still live our lives? How is this “normal”?
Let me assure you, it becomes your “new normal”. They ease you into it. You find time. You realize it isn’t completely taking over your life. Eventually they add therapies, but a lot of times you decide how often and when it works best for you and your schedule. There are plenty of times they can come after you’re home from work or work with your child at their daycare.
It really is up to you, if you feel like you need a break, take a break. If you need more, ask for more, less etc. If you don’t feel as though the therapist is working well with you or your child, ask for a change. As women we tend to be people pleasers. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, so we keep quiet and we complain to our trusted family and friends. That is why it is imperative we work past those feelings and speak up for our children, who are unable to speak for themselves at this age.
Therapists will leave you with “homework” to work on with your child. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, as each therapist as this homework. I was told once by a mother of a child older than my daughter, to pick a few important things to work on. When mastered, move on and pick a few other things!
Most importantly, it is okay to cancel. It is okay to have a vacation. It’s okay to have a day where you cuddle and play. Everyone can use a break, especially our kiddos. As my occupational therapist told me: “The most important exercise you can do with your child, is play with them and love them”. Giving them the opportunity to move around means so much. Playing with them on the floor gives them the opportunity to practice skills while strengthening your bond. Who doesn’t love to have fun?
Here are some additional tools you can use if EI isn’t as easily accessible in your state:
To contact Alyse Biro, or to read more of her articles, you can visit her website at No BS About DS.