Early Childhood Intervention provides support and services for children aged 0-7 who are displaying signs of, or have been diagnosed with, developmental delay or disability.
Read on to learn more about the process and where you can find more information.
Information about Early Childhood Intervention
Early Childhood Intervention is the process of providing specialised support and services for children aged 0-7 who are displaying signs of, or have been diagnosed with, developmental delay or disability.
The support extends to the child’s family members or carers to promote maximum development for the child.
While children aged 0-6 currently do not require a diagnosis to access supports under the NDIS, it is best to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Intervention supports work best when it is designed specifically to meet your child’s needs. For this to happen, you need to understand what your child needs and having a formal diagnosis, if possible, is a good way to achieve this.
Sometimes securing a diagnosis for your child can take significant time and effort but this helps maximise the outcomes for your child.
Your first point of contact will usually be your doctor, maternal and child health nurse, or other health professional. They will help you work out what supports you and your child might need and they may connect you with NDIS’s early childhood partners.
Your Early Childhood Partners may then refer you to local mainstream/community organisations (such as your state’s Department of Education) or a combination of NDIS and mainstream services. Your local Early Childhood partner can offer you a tailored referral pathway that will suit your child and family’s needs.
It is important to note that the NDIS is not a permanent solution for everyone. The NDIS Early Childhood approach may provide short-term capacity building strategies for your child, after which mainstream services can meet your child’s needs. Ensuring you continue contact and engagement with your Early Childhood planner is the best way to get the most appropriate supports and services for your child. They use their local sector knowledge to link you with the right services for your child and your family.
Once you have been assisted to find to right intervention strategy for your child and your family, early childhood intervention practitioners can provide support, assessment, advice, and strategies to promote your child’s development and learning. There is a wide range of supports available. Supports should be offered in a range of everyday environments such as at home, childcare, playgroup, sporting, and community activities, as well as in clinical settings. Families and carers will also be supported to help their children develop and use new skills.
A few of the most common practitioners that you might work with to support your child’s development are:
- Key Workers
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Varying therapy assistants
Who your child works with will depend on their needs, as well as your family’s capacity to implement the practitioners’ appointments into daily life. A practitioner may recommend a certain number of sessions or time with your child. It is important you speak with the therapist if this does not work for your family to ensure the therapy will be delivered to suit your child and your family.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to intervention during childhood, and there is no one intervention that improves all developmental outcomes for all children who need early intervention. Generally, interventions should be selected on an individual basis and the child should be treated as an individual to achieve the best outcomes possible.
A few examples of best practice in health and social care professionals:
- Aim to foster your child’s age-appropriate autonomy and promote active participation from the child, parents, and carers in decisions about their supports.
- Aim to lead to self-management by parents or carers.
- Ensure continuity of individual relationships wherever possible with individual therapists.
- Provide comprehensive information about the nature, and actual delivery, of interventions and services to participants, parents and carers in appropriate language or formats, including various visual, verbal, and aural, easy-read, and different colour and fonts.
- Consider whether the child/family may benefit from access to a trained advocate.
As your child’s best advocate, it is important to know you have choice in how your provider conducts their interventions and being involved in this process improves your child’s outcomes in natural settings like the home, social situations and school or day-care.
Your child’s practitioners should empower and encourage both you and your child to use strategies in your everyday lives, rather than only within set visits. This allows your child to gain the most benefit from these interventions and fosters independence and development on an everyday basis. If you feel your practitioner is not doing this, you can speak with your practitioner or seek a second opinion on the current methods being used.
Education providers may offer some early intervention for children before they start school, however this varies from state to state. It is important to visit your state’s Department of Education website to know what is provided by educational providers.
Your Early Childhood planner can offer insight into the supports available through education providers in your area.
Links to state education information:
Early Days/Moving Forward Workshops – Previously available under the “Better Start Initiative”
Information workshops on Early Childhood Intervention referral pathways continue to be held in your state. While these workshops are run by organisations with experience in Autism, they are open to all families and carers of children under 7 who are experience disability, developmental delay or are displaying signs of delay.
The workshops cover various early intervention pathways specific to your area and other information on supports available to your child as well as you as their parent/carer.
Providers of these workshops
Ability First – email@example.com or 1800 771 663
Carers SA – www.carerssa.com.au/
Carers TAS – www.carerstas.org/
Additional Information and Support
Find further information and an Early Childhood partner in your area:
Search your local area for an Early Childhood Partner in The Community – www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/what-ndis/whos-rolling-out-ndis/ecei-partners-community
Read over the step-by-step Early Childhood process – www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/families-and-carers/how-ecei-works-step-step-process
Carers Australia has some helpful information for families and carers of children with disability here.
Raising Children Network – www.raisingchildren.net.au/
Disability Gateway – www.disabilitygateway.gov.au/
Carer Gateway – www.carergateway.gov.au/ or 1800 422 737