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Early Intervention is the term used to describe services provided to infants and toddlers ages birth to 3 years old. This type of intervention is warranted when a child demonstrates a significant delay in communication, oral motor, or feeding skills. Early Intervention uses direct therapy techniques with the child while simultaneously developing therapy strategies that are easily included in daily routines by the family and caregivers of the child.
The role of the Speech Therapists in Early Intervention:
- Evaluate children’s communication and feeding abilities between the ages 0-3 years.
- Therapy for children who are at risk for a speech-language delay.
- Specific strategies taught to help the child achieve developmental milestones in communication and feeding using direct therapy and play
- Parent education and empowerment regarding techniques on how to stimulate your child to help achieve functional communication and feeding milestones
- Feeding therapy for difficult eaters and/or swallowing problems
- Oral motor exercises and massages to improve oral muscular abilities and function
- Decreasing of reflux-related feeding difficulties in babies and young children
- Referral to the appropriate professionals if a wider range of difficulties exist which may impact on communication and feeding development.
What is Communication?
- Between 2 or more people.
- Interaction – human nature (words, gestures, facial expressions, tone, body language, eye contact, language etc.).
- Expression of ideas, information and needs.
- The early years (0-3) is very important for the development of language and speech.
- The parent plays the most vital role in teaching the child to communicate.
When does communication start?
- From 18 weeks: When the mother is pregnant, the unborn baby can hear her voice.
- Communications starts with the first sound that the baby makes.
What is necessary for good communication?
- Hearing: The child must be able to hear sounds before he can learn to speech and language.
- Face(eyes): it is important for the baby to see your face when you speck to him.
- Good Health: A healthy baby has a lot of energy and is playful. Play is important for listening and speech. When the child has a cold or is ill, he will not have the energy to play. It will therefore take him longer to learn speech and language.
Why do I have to talk to my baby?
- The more the carer and the family talks to the baby and imitates his sounds, the more he will want to talk.
- It is not necessary to buy expensive toys. There are many opportunities for the child to learn speech and language in the daily routines.
- Speech is linked to emotions and starts at an early stage when the mother cuddles the baby and makes baby sounds.