Preschool 0-4 years

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The first few years of a child’s life are an exciting time, as we watch them learn, grow, discover the world and reach important milestones. Preschool children with disability may reach these milestones later, or have their own to strive for.

Key points

  • Early intervention is one of the best ways to support the development of a child with disability
  • A doctor/general practitioner (GP) can suggest therapies and services that may be right for your child
  • As a parent, it’s best to make sure you do your research about the therapies that are available

Early intervention for your child

For preschool-aged children with disability, early intervention will support their development, while helping them build confidence as they grow.

Early Childhood Early Interventions (ECEI) are available to children who:

  • Have a condition that may not be fully diagnosed but it does have functional impacts
  • Children with developmental delays that could be treated by early intervention but are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • Have an impairment that’s likely to be permanent

You can speak to your doctor about possible early interventions, while the NDIS funds appropriate supports and therapies to assist your preschool-aged child. Therapies are programs that promote child development, while services are the organisations or places that offer them.

Your therapy options could involve parent-child therapy, one-on-one intervention with a therapist or a group session with other children.

Early invention will work best when tailored to your child’s individual needs with intensive early intervention proving the most effective.

Most therapies can be undertaken at a range of locations including in the comfort of your own home, online, in a therapist’s office or at childcare or kindergarten.

Common therapies for young children

Common therapies for preschool-aged children include occupational therapy for fine motor skills, physiotherapy for balance, sitting, crawling and walking and speech therapy to help with speech, language and eating and drinking skills.

Disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and vision impairment may require specialised support via therapy.

A range of early intervention therapies is available through hospitals, community health centres, specialist disability services or early intervention services.

Choosing early intervention therapies

When choosing early intervention therapies and services for your child, there are a number of factors to consider. Your child’s therapies should be:

  • Family and child-focused
  • Provide flexibility, allowing yourself and other family members to work alongside your child
  • Tailored to your child’s needs
  • Focused on the development of new skills
  • Well-structured and supportive
  • Developmentally appropriate, with tailored plans, qualified staff
  • Specifically designed for children with disability

It’s important to remember every child is different and no single program will suit all children with disability and their families.

As a parent, it’s vital to do your research, ask questions and focus on what you want for you and your child, when planning their early intervention strategies and organising your NDIS support plan.

What do you want to know about early intervention? Tell us in the comment section below.