A Closer Look At Early Intervention For Kids - The Children's Guild

There are many services available to support families that have young children with developmental delays and disabilities. These include diagnosis, speech and physical therapy, and other services based on needs. Early intervention has a significant impact on learning skills and overcoming challenges and offers a child more success in school and beyond. As leaders in special education, The Children’s Guild recognizes the importance of early intervention as well as the continual support of students with special needs in our communities.


Early intervention is the term for the various services that support kids from birth to three years with developmental delays or disabilities. In addition to what your pediatrician or a specialist can provide, early intervention programs are available in every state for families who meet their state’s criteria for developmental delay. However, programs can be hard to find and difficult to navigate for the average family.


Neural circuits in a child’s brain are the foundation for learning, behavior, and health, and are most adaptable in a child’s first three years. Early intervention is designed to prevent more significant behavioral challenges among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


If you have developmental concerns with your child, starting with therapies as quickly as possible can make a difference. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends acting as soon as possible, telling your doctor your concerns, speaking with school teachers and counselors, asking for a referral to a specialist, and contacting your state’s early intervention program.

Publicly funded programs that are free of charge or offered at a reduced cost are available around the country.

It can be hard to start this conversation with your doctor. It’s best to be specific and use detailed written notes to keep track of what you’ve noticed and who you’ve communicated with. Follow along with these recommendations to share your development concerns with your pediatrician and other specialists. If you have to wait for an evaluation (and this is common), make the most of your wait time by reading, singing, playing, and making crafts with your child. The CDC recommends that you “talk to the child, label household items, point out interesting things, tell stories, comment about what you see and how you feel, and explain how things work and why things happen. Your child may not always seem to be listening, but he or she may be hearing more than you think.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a free Milestone Tracker App for parents. From birth to 5 years, a child will typically reach certain milestones in play, learning, speaking, acting, and moving. The app helps you track your child’s development and act early if there’s a concern.

If you’re looking for a support network for advice and guidance, check organizations like Family Voices, or call 1-888-835-5669.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during regular well-child visits at nine months, 18 months and 30 months. They also recommend that all children be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child visits at 18 and 24 months.

If your child is at higher risk due to preterm birth, low birthweight, or environmental risks like lead exposure, you might also want to at additional screening.


If you’re concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait. Talk to someone. Every child is different, but you know your child best. Acting early can make a real difference. Once a child is school age, ask if they are eligible for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and if they can access wrap-around services during the school day. The Children’s Guild offers these services in all of our preschools, charter schools, and non-public schools. Behavior therapists, social workers, speech language pathologists, mental health counseling, and other specialists can help educate the whole child with a focus on social and emotional learning. Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and these services can help identify goals unique to your young learner.

You can reference this useful Fact Sheet on Developmental Monitoring and Screening from the CDC, in English and Spanish.

Remember that early intervention isn’t just about addressing challenges. It’s about unlocking potential, fostering growth, and nurturing every child’s unique ability. By embracing early intervention, you can feel empowered and view every milestone achieved as a testament to the incredible resilience within your child. Together, let’s continue to advocate for and invest in early intervention programs. With a commitment to inclusion, we can create a world where every child, regardless of their abilities, can achieve their dreams.