Many parents have heard the phrase “early intervention,” but what does it really mean? Early intervention is key to helping prevent or lessen the symptoms of developmental disabilities, such as autism. Early intervention can help children reach their full potential, and parents need to be the first to help their children succeed. Don’t wait for a doctor or friend to notice concerns about your child — follow some tips for starting early intervention at home.
- Play with your baby — interact through games and age-appropriate activities, and make notes of your child’s behavior.
- Enroll in a child enrichment program, such as a music or art class. These classes help the parent or caregiver-child bond and increases social interaction and play. Learn activity ideas from these programs and reinforce them at home.
- Find motivating contexts for your child — if your child loves to sing and dance, use music and movement activities at home.
- Consider activities that are age-appropriate. Peek-a-boo, tickling, and raspberries are all acceptable activities for an infant, while toddlers will prefer singing songs or reading books, and preschoolers will enjoy simple games and learning educational concepts.
- Use functional and appropriate vocabulary. Make a list of words you want your child to know, and start with short phrases that are used daily or will help your child communicate his needs.
Through these various activities, you will be able to observe your child’s behavior and potentially compare it to a standard developmental milestones chart. Warning signs of disorders like autism include:
- rarely smiling when approached by caregivers
- delayed babbling
- does not gesture for communication by 10 months
- does not seek attention
- poor eye contact
- delays in motor development
Do not freak out if your child is exhibiting one or more of these signs, as children develop at different paces, but monitor the signs and be sure to talk to your doctor about next steps.
These goal-oriented activities are enjoyable and interactive for all children, whether they have special needs or not. Inspiring and encouraging a child’s natural creativity and curiosity through motor, auditory, and verbal activities helps give them a well-rounded development, and they give you an opportunity to spot warning signs for developmental disabilites.
Photo by hbp_pix