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Because I am a Bilingual Early Childhood Special Instructor working in underserved, under-priviledged communities, I have learned that there are MANY families that are not aware of the services available to them and their special needs children. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to find out that your child has been born with a disability. Feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, isolation and helplessness often surround new parents who don’t know where to go or who to turn to. It is my mission to provide all parents with the tools necessary to improve the lives of their children before it is too late.

Early intervention services are designed to ease the anxiety by providing resources and solutions to help you and your baby grow. With an early intervention, the child will foster with a large support structure and will have the best chance at normal development through specially-focused programs, while you get the emotional support you need to make it through the first few difficult years. There are three main reasons to consider an early intervention program. First, early intervention services enhance child development. Intervention research suggests that the rate of human learning and development is most rapid in the first five years of life. Early skill development is crucial to laying the groundwork for lifelong education. Secondly, these interventions assist parents and siblings, helping them deal with feelings of stress or helplessness, while learning to maintain a positive attitude. Families of special needs children are found to have increased instances of divorce, suicide and domestic abuse, experts say, so an early intercession is critical to managing emotions from the onset. Lastly, early intervention services will increase the child’s developmental and educational gains, increasing his or her eligibility for future employment and self-sufficiency.

Some parents wonder, “Is early intervention really effective?” After nearly 50 years of research by the Department of Education, there is substantial evidence that early intervention services increase the developmental and educational gains for the child. Additionally, children with early interventions need less services later in life, have less instances of failing a grade and offer more long-term benefits for society. The parents who go through the intervention program are also in a healthier, happier place. One intervention study indicated that disadvantaged and gifted preschoolers benefited from an early intervention program all the way through to age 19. These benefits included more dedication to school, more college attendees, higher reading/arithmetic/language test scores, fewer instances of delinquent behavior and a 50% reduction in the need for special education services in high school (Berrueta-Clement, Schweinhart, Barnett, Epstein, Weikart, 1984).

Generally, early intervention services include: family education and counseling; home visits; parent support groups; special instruction; speech pathology; audiology services; occupational therapy; physical therapy; psychological services; service coordination; nursing services; nutrition services; social work services; vision services; assistive technology devices and services.

In New York State, to be eligible for early intervention services, children must be under 3 years of age and have a confirmed disability or established developmental delay, as defined by the State, in one or more of the following areas of development: physical, cognitive, communication, social-emotional, and/or adaptive.

Your first step is to review a Developmental Milestones Chart. Here is the DAYC (Developmental Assessment of Young Children) Developmental Chart I use when I evaluate children:

Young children learn and develop differently. One baby might walk earlier than another, while another baby might talk first. Often these differences even out. Look at the Developmental Chart I provided for signs that your child may need extra help. If you have concerns, the earlier you get help the better. Call 311 and tell them you would like your child to receive a Developmental Evaluation asap.

This link provides you with a copy of the Parent’s Guide to Early Intervention, which describes in full detail what you can expect from the NYC Early Intervention Program (EIP): http://www.health.state.ny.us/publications/0532.pdf

If your child qualifies for early intervention services, before his/her 3rd birthday, if he/she still requires services, he/she will be transitioned into the Committee of Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Program, which works with children ages 3-5. If your child is about to enter Preschool and did not receive early intervention services, you can still have your child evaluated for CPSE services. If your child received CPSE services and is transitioning out of the program and still requires more help, he/she will be transitioned into the Committee of Special Education (CSE) program, which works with children ages 5-21. If your child did not receive EIP or CPSE services, they can still be evaluated for CSE services.

To find NYC DOH-Approved Special Needs Providers, Centers and Preschools, check out this link: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/earlyint/earlydirectory.shtml#excel

For a copy of the Parent’s Guide to Special Education in New York State for Children (Ages 3–21), check out this link: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/parentguide.htm

If you are not sure which is your child’s Zoned School, which School District you are in, or want to learn more about other schools in your area, check out this link: http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolSearch/Maps.aspx

There are other programs avaiable to help us meet the needs and interests of every student like: English Language Learners, Gifted & Talented, Charter Schools, Small Learning Communities, Career and Technical Education, Options for Students Who Fall Behind in High School, Transfer High Schools, Young Adult Borough Centers, GED Programs with Learning to Work, and Learning to Work Programs. Check out this link for more info: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/SpecialPrograms/default.htm

If you are simply looking for info on Pre-K Registration, click on this link: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/default.htm

If you are simply looking for info on Kindergarten Registration, click on this link: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Elementary/Enrollment+Information.htm

Our children are our most precious natural resource. Let’s give them all the support we can to help them reach optimal growth and development. Please forward this link to all parents in your community.