I wanted to take this month and discuss the early intervention services the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) provides to the community. Research has shown that early intervention impacts a child’s developmental path and can improve outcomes that affect the rest of their lives. We are privileged at the Shelby County Board of DD that our community support allows us to provide this valuable service.
The Early Intervention (EI) Department at the Shelby County Board of DD serves infants, toddlers and young children up to the age of three. The EI Department works as a team with Ohio Early Intervention (formerly Help Me Grow) and the Shelby County Family and Children First Council. Referrals are taken by Ohio Early Intervention and then are matched up with an evaluation team. Many families are referred by their doctor, but most of our referrals come from the families themselves who have noticed a developmental concern with their child.
Evaluations usually take place in the child’s home and are conducted by trained staff. To be eligible for EI, a child must have a delay in one qualified area, an eligible diagnosis, or the team believes that the child has a need and would benefit from intervention. Once the child is determined to be eligible for EI, the service coordinator works with the family and the professional staff to develop goals or outcomes for the child.
Some common outcomes revolve around daily living skills such as eating and drinking, language skills or speech, rolling over, walking, running/jumping. Once outcomes are set, the home visits for intervention are arranged.
All of the intervention happens in the child’s natural environment, meaning their home, or wherever they spend most of their time. The EI staff work with the child and coach the caregivers on different interventions and strategies. Families are expected to incorporate these strategies into their routines in between home visits in order to help the child make progress more quickly.
As a child progresses, the team will determine if they need continued early intervention. If the child is approaching the age of 3, the team will work with the family to determine whether the child will need continued intervention in the form of special education or preschool or if they no longer need specialized intervention.
The Shelby County Board of DD employs or contracts with specialists in the areas of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Additionally, we have highly trained developmental specialists that work directly with the families, therapists and early intervention service coordinators to ensure that the plans are being implemented correctly. Our EI Department is truly a collaborative team and they use that approach to assist families in Shelby County to meet their developmental potential.
Early Intervention is one of the many valuable non-mandated services that your local county board provides to the community at no cost to eligible people. We are able to provide these services because of the wonderful community support the Shelby County Board of DD has received over the years.
If you have any questions about early intervention of any of our other services, please call us at 937-497-8155. Also, don’t forget to check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shelbydd.org
The writer is the superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities.