Early intervention

7 Common Myths About Early Intervention

By Annie Stuart

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The world of early intervention can be confusing. There are a lot of myths about the services involved and parents and children’s rights. Here we set the record straight.

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Close up of a toddler walking between her father’s legs
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Myth #1: Early intervention is only for kids with disabilities like Down syndrome.

Fact: Kids under 3 are eligible for early intervention if they have a disability or developmental delay. This includes children who haven’t reached certain developmental milestones, including communication or social-emotional milestones.

Toddler climbing through a tunnel on the playground
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Myth #2: My child isn’t eligible for early intervention services. I guess there’s nothing I can do.

Fact: If you disagree with the results of an evaluation, you can challenge the decision. You can request to meet with officials to talk about concerns (mediation). You can also request an impartial hearing (due process).

What if you agree that your child isn’t eligible, but feel you still need help? Ask the service coordinator to help you find services in your community. Learn more about what to do if your child doesn’t qualify for early intervention.

Close up of a mother attending a parent meeting meeting
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Myth #3: Parents don’t have much to do with early intervention. The experts will handle it.

Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. You are an essential partner in early intervention. You have the right to be involved each step of the way. This includes being involved with your child’s evaluation and Individualized Family Service Plan. For example, you help decide what services your child and family need, what results you want to see and who will provide the services.

Parent carefully reading and reviewing a letter
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Myth #4: There’s no way to stay informed about your child’s early intervention services.

Fact: According to the law, you have to be informed before anything happens. This is called prior written notice. Prior written notice explains what’s happening and why. In some cases, you must also officially consent for services to start or change.

Parent reading a letter
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Myth #5: Nothing is private anymore, including my child’s information.

Fact: The law has a lot to say about this. There are strict requirements to keep your family’s information private. Evaluators, service providers and service coordinators must carefully protect all your information. And they have to get written permission from you in order to release information about your child. You can change your mind at any time about who has access to this information.

Educator smiling and presenting paperwork at a meeting
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Myth #6: Once you have a plan for early intervention, you can’t change it.

Fact: Think of the Individualized Family Service Plan as a “living” document. You and the team review it every six months to make sure it still makes sense for you and your family.

And you can request changes any time you feel that it’s necessary. It’s a good time to regroup and revise if your child already met the goals you set and you need to add new ones. You might also request changes if it seems like something isn’t working well for your child.

Teacher addressing a student in a busy classroom
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Myth #7: Early intervention services can be delivered anywhere.

Fact: This isn’t exactly true. Services must be provided in what’s called “natural environments” whenever possible. Natural environments are familiar places. They’re environments where your child, family and care providers can participate in everyday activities. This could be in your home or a nearby park. It could also be outside gardening, grocery shopping or visiting friends.

Learn more about where early intervention specialists will work with your child.

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About the Author

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Annie Stuart

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Reviewed by Virginia Gryta, M.S. Apr 10, 2014 Apr 10, 2014

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