The scope of this Practice Portal page is early intervention for children ages birth to 3 years and their families. It focuses on the early intervention process as a whole.
For information about assessment and treatment of specific communication or swallowing disorders in infants and toddlers, refer to the relevant
Evidence Maps and
Clinical Topics in the Practice Portal.
Early intervention (EI) is the process of providing services and supports to infants, toddlers, and their families when a child has, or is at risk for, a developmental delay, disability, or health condition that may affect typical development and learning. The goal of EI is to lessen the effects of a disability or delay by addressing identified needs of young children across five developmental areas:
- Cognitive development
- Communication development
- Physical development, including vision and hearing
- Social or emotional development
- Adaptive development (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], 2004)
The earlier that services are delivered, the more likely children are to develop effective communication, language, and swallowing skills and achieve successful learning outcomes (Guralnick, 2011). The Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, also called Part C of IDEA, is a federal grant program that helps individual states operate comprehensive systems of interdisciplinary EI services for children ages birth to 3 with disabilities and their families. EI services can also be provided outside of Part C programs in settings such as neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), pediatric rehabilitation hospitals or clinics, preschools, and private practices. Services in these settings may not be covered by federal or state dollars but may be billed to public or private insurance or to the family.