What you need to know about early intervention

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What is early intervention?

Early intervention is a system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. Early intervention focuses on helping eligible babies and toddlers learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as:

  • physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
  • cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems);
  • communication (talking, listening, understanding);
  • social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and
  • self-help (eating, dressing)

Who is eligible for early intervention services?

 Infants and toddlers with 25% or greater delay in one or more developmental area(s): 

  • Cognitive, adaptive, receptive or expressive language, social/emotional, fine motor, gross motor, vision, hearing development
  • Infants and toddlers with atypical development – as demonstrated by atypical/ questionable sensory-motor responses, social-emotional development, or behaviors, or an impairment in social interaction and communication skills along with restricted and repetitive behaviors
  • Infants and toddlers with a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay – e.g., cerebral palsy, hearing or vision impairment, Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities, central nervous system disorders, effects of toxic exposure, failure to thrive, etc. 

How can my family receive a referral for services?

Referral for services can be made by a physician, family member, social worker, educator, or child care provider.

What services are available through early intervention?

There are various service options through the Early Intervention program, including: 

  • Social work services
  • Assistive technology 
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Developmental services
  • Audiology services
  • Nursing care
  • Family training and consulting
  • Transportation
  • Nutrition services

What happens after a referral is made?

After a referral is made, a support coordinator will contact your family and complete a screening. This screening will be evaluated by a team with expertise in development. This team will determine if your child meets the criteria for eligibility. You will receive written notice of the team's decision. 

My child was found eligible for services? What happens next?

Members of the Early Intervention team will conduct an assessment and develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). This plan will include your input, and together, you will discuss services and outcomes for your child. Services will be provided regardless of your ability to pay, though some services will be subject to a family cost-share.

Early Intervention Links & Resources

Your all-in-one toolkit

Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia assists families with infants and toddlers birth to three with developmental delays and/or disabilities help their children learn and develop through everyday activities and routines so that they can participate fully in family and community activities. 


Important links:

New Path

Getting children started in early intervention services is critical, but it’s often not enough.  Parents need information, support, and so much more. New Path guides them as their children move through the early intervention system and transition to the next step. Click here to connect with the New Path program.

First Words Project

FIRST WORDS®Project is a longitudinal research investigation in the Florida State University Autism Institute in the College of Medicine directed by Dr. Amy Wetherby. The major goal of the program is to identify early signs of developmental language disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and other communication delays in children from 9 to 24 months of age.  Their website offers a variety of downloadable documents for families. 

Find them on the web: http://firstwordsproject.com/


Zero to Three

Zero to Three is a national, non-profit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Learn about child development, advocacy, development and parenting tips by visiting them on the web.

Find them on the web: https://www.zerotothree.org/


Parent Center Hub

Parent Center Hub is a collection of tools, resources, webinars for parent centers and families alike. Over 1000 resources on topics such as IDEA, early intervention, transition services and more. 

Find them on the web: https://www.parentcenterhub.org/


Love Talk Play

Learn every day ways to show love, talk to your child and play with your child to encourage his or her development. Find them on the web: http://lovetalkplay.org/

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