To correctly begin this article we have to start with, ” ONCE UPON A TIME”. You may new be sitting with a puzzled look on your face, but let me explain. Lets look at students A, B, and C:
Student A is a 15 year old student who’s teacher is ready to fail him because of his poor handwriting.
ONCE UPON A TIME…….when the same student was 4, he was unable to keep his alphabet aligned on his wide ruled paper nor was he able to complete simple mazes. His visual motor integrational skills were not addressed when he was young and is now a hindrance to his progress.
Student B is a 14 year old girl whom is extremely aggressive in school toward her peers. Moreover, she often gets into fights and altercations and appears to simply hate being around people.
ONCE UPON A TIME…….she was a 5 year old little girl that would cry when having to do finger paints, have a tantrum when asked to play with modeling clay, and always complained about the tags in her shirts and how her clothes didn’t “feel right”. Her hypersensitivity/tactile defensive tendencies were not addressed when she was young and is now a hindrance to her progress.
Student C is a 13 year old student whose reading comprehension has been the topic of discussion at many parent-teacher conferences. The teacher states to the parents that he is an extremely bright child, and can answer any questions from a discussion in class, however, can never fully explain or discuss a reading assignment.
ONCE UPON A TIME…….when the student was 7 and had to read aloud in class, he would often repeat words multiple times. He would read a sentence, and before starting the new sentence, he would reread the last couple of words in the previous sentence. He was also extremely poor at sports and refused to play on a majority of occasions. His visual tracking skills were not addressed when he was young and is now a hindrance to his progress.
In all of these instances if there would have been early intervention, the issues, problems, and hindrances that we see in these children could possibly be greatly decreased or even nonexistent. By definition Early intervention is “procedures and programs that facilitate the development or skill acquisition in infants and young children who have disabilities, who are at risk for developing disabilities, or who are gifted. It includes programs that are designed to prevent handicapping conditions in infants and young children and family-centered programs designed to affect the functioning of infants and children with special needs. (From Journal of Early Intervention, Editorial, 1989, vol. 13, no. 1, p. 3; A Discursive Dictionary of Health Care, prepared for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 1976)”
The learning of basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first years of life is the focus of early intervention. With this in mind, we see how early intervention can play an integral part in the early developmental stages of life. In addition, early intervention helps those in need meet particular age appropriate developmental milestones. Areas of in early intervention include:
- Physical Developmental Milestones(reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
- Cognitive Developmental Milestones (thinking, learning, solving problems);
- Communication Developmental Milestones (talking, listening, understanding);
- Social/emotional Developmental Milestones (playing, feeling secure and happy); and
- Self-help Developmental Milestones (eating, dressing).
Having an individual proceed through life without successfully achieving base developmental milesstones is a recipe for academic failure and scholastic latency. We must begin to look at students the same way an architect looks at building a home. If the architect has a million dollars to build a home, he would not spend only 1000 to plant or lay the foundation. If so, everything that he builds on top of that faulty foundation is bound to fall. Early intervention allows for that steady foundation to be laid. This allows us as educators, therapists, and caregivers to later build upon that foundation and have assurance that progress can and will continue.
It is paramount that each and every individual involved in the rearing and growth of a child be keenly aware of developmental milestones. Not only would this allow for a dramatic decrease in academic and scholastic difficulties, but improve the overall quality of life for each child affected.
Dr. Frederick B. Covington, OTD, is an occupational therapist , award winning inventor, lecturer, and author. Following his graduation from Howard University he began his career as an occupational therapist. His areas of expertise includes pediatrics, school based intervention, autism, developmental disabilities, physical disability and dysfunction, technology, as well as geriatrics. Holistic patient care is at the center of his mantra, being “Treat the patient, not the diagnosis.”
For the past decade Dr. Covington has honed his skills in the Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland regions by providing residential occupational therapy evaluations, adaptive equipment assessments, and safety/ergonomic home modifications. In addition, Dr. Covington has been recognized for his pediatric treatment methods for individuals presenting with intellectual impairments, behavioral problems, ADHD, OCD, sensory integration deficits, learning disabilities, and executive functional disorders. Having a passion for technology, Dr. Covington is currently developing multiple iPad, Kindle, and Windows Mobile applications to therapeutically better the lives of all.
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