As soon as I was diagnosed with Autism, my parents did everything they can to get me services and therapies that I needed. Eventually, I received Early Intervention. I had Early Intervention while living in NY. Early Intervention helped me progress to now living to my best potential and quality of life today. To this day, I still believe children living with Autism should get Early Intervention, if possible, and as soon as possible.

Early Intervention is a program with services that are provided for children with developmental disabilities until the age of three. There are many services included in Early Intervention: Assistive Technology, Audiology Services, Family training, Parent counseling, Home Visits, Health Services, Medical Services, Nursing Services, Nutrition Services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Transportation, Vision Services, Special Instruction/Developmental Intervention, Physiological Services, and Service Coordination Services. When I was in NY, I received many of these Early Intervention services at home and school. Plus, I attended a special education school called, “Thursday’s Child”, in which I participated in their Early Intervention program. I will share many of the therapies I received growing up and more about the school I attended in upcoming blog stories!

There is a whole process that comes into Early Intervention. To start, a child must get assessed and evaluated for Early Intervention. Children are evaluated in various developmental areas: physical, cognitive, language, adaptive functioning, and social and emotional. The child’s disability is evaluated using a standardized assessment tool and must meet criteria. One of the criteria, in order to be qualified for services through Early Intervention, is that a child must have two or more areas of development that are delayed below average than other children. Children living with Autism are automatically qualified if the disability is documented, since Autism a neurodevelopment disability that affects all areas of an individual’s development, including social and language.

After an evaluation and assessment, a plan is created for the child and their family. The plan includes a document of services and supports needed for the child and family. Parents must consent to the plan with the team before the child can receive their services. Parents have the right to change anything in the plan, from adding services to removing services that are necessary for their child. The cost of Early Intervention and its services are based on the family’s income. My parents paid a lot for me to have my services, but it was so worth it!

Early Intervention ends at the age of three and it include helping the child transition for preschool, no matter where they end up attending. After my services were finished, my family and I moved to NJ and I attended Children’s Center of Monmouth County, a specialized school for children living with Autism and multiple disabilities. Unlike back in my early years and in NY, there are many ways of getting Early Intervention today. More resources to come out about Early Intervention will be published.

This blog post was originally published on Michelle’s blog Exceptional Shell. More posts like this one can be found by visiting her site!