Early Intervention

What is Early Intervention?

Early intervention should maximise a child’s potential by intensively supporting his/ her development in the early years of life, when the brain is most “plastic” (able to adapt).

“The goal of early intervention is to minimise cognitive, motor and emotional impairments in young children disadvantaged by biological or environmental risk factors. The early years are critically important for cognitive and motor development. The timing of therapeutic approaches that support developmental acquisition during this period reflects the most dynamic period of neuroplasticity with the highest potential for ameliorating the negative sequelae associated with high-risk infants” (Morgan et al 2016; Hadders-Algra et al 2017).

EiSMART interventions are characterised by a focus on exploration, active trial and error, variability of practice, high frequency of practice, and parent/carer education and active involvement. The goal is not only to advance targeted skills in the moment, but to more broadly advance your child’s future abilities.

Top tips for successful early interventions

  • Positive expectations. Infants and their families want and need positive experiences from intervention sessions. Parental well-being and confidence are vital and infants are extremely responsive and susceptible to the emotions of others. Interventions that incorporate psychosocial support result in improved outcomes. Illuminate the strengths and abilities of the infant and strengths of the family.
  • Shared Expertise. Acknowledge the mutual expertise in the relationship between therapists and families. Respect, pay attention to and address parental priorities. Corroborate and support family observations.
  • Explore family priorities. Goals of intervention will be more meaningful and more likely to be achieved if they are negotiated collaboratively.
  • Frame and break down relevant developmental skills for families into achievable steps. Look together at what the baby can do on their own and how they are doing it, now and for the future. Explore what they can do with a little help and what is difficult or challenging/the next step.
  • Orchestrate a “just right challenge” to address what is missing from attaining relevant developmental skills and balance challenge with fun and success. Practice with families to adapt suggestions to individual infants, families and their environments.
  • Always ensure the infant and family have a feeling of success by carefully planning interventions and activities.

You can access free resources to support your child, including leaflets to support developmental play here.

We’ve compiled a list of useful resources and contacts here

Learn about the other threads of the EiSMART framework here

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