When I see older adults with special needs out in public, I often ask myself how their life might have been different if they had been able to access the early intervention services we have today. Could they have lived independently, would their speech and social skills have been better, how would the intervention have changed the family, and many more questions come to mind?
This is also the case with children. As the director of a child care center that provides inclusive classrooms and intervention, I have witnessed first hand how even a few years can make a huge difference! When we get an infant in our program with special needs and our teachers have the opportunity to daily work with them and the child can learn from the other children it’s magical! The child thrives and most of the time is able to go into a general education kindergarten classroom. Many won’t need any additional remediation or services when they enter school. You can imagine how much money that saves our taxpayers.
Partners In Learning also provides early intervention services in children’s homes. This intervention is not only to work with the child but also to coach the family so that they can teach their child in their everyday routines. Many of the children we serve age out of services even before they are three years old.
Even children as young as three and four are playing catch up when there has been no early identification or intervention. I have witnessed this first hand in my line of work. Often mothers will say to me, “Something seems off with my child” or “I think my child has a delay”, but the doctor or teacher says to wait. I say don’t wait! If your mommy gut says to be concerned, you need to be concerned. Don’t take no for an answer! Get a second opinion or a free screening through the local school system if you child is over three or through the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) if your child is under three.
Your child’s future depends on the early intervention services he/she receives. Actually, our communities, state, and nation depend on it as well. Lets give our children with special needs the best possible start by providing quality early intervention! The earlier the better!
Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.