Examining Early Intervention & Applied Behavior Analysis

As our society improves its sensitivity to the developmental needs of all individuals, our educational, medical and parental community has progressively amended its ability to identify developmental issues. In fact, some developmental disabilities have been uncovered in children as young as 2 years old. Such proactive identification and developmental progress has been possible primarily through early intervention and applied behavior analysis. Both concepts consist of a variety of components, so it is important to understand the basics, as well as how early intervention and applied behavior analysis relate to one another.

An introduction to Early Intervention

In the behavioral analysis field, early intervention is considered an organized group of services that assist young children with learning the skills necessary to function in society. These services may be all-encompassing, comprising of physical, cognitive, communication, social, emotional and self-help skills.

That said, early intervention services are personalized for the needs of each individual, so it is important to keep in mind that the focus of providing these services should be improving the whole individual, not just particular aspects. For example, a child that struggles with cognitive skills – problem-solving – but has no problems with physical skills – like reaching, rolling or crawling – will not be given an early intervention program that includes a focus on physical skills. So, it is best to consider early intervention as a set of services which aim to improve the skills that are under-developed in comparison to peers.

Within early intervention programs, behavioral specialists will leverage a wide array of technologies and approaches. But again, it is important to note that each program is tailored to the needs of the child, so what is applied within one program may not necessarily be within another. Early intervention programs may also provide training for family members as they play an important role in the improvement and progression of children with developmental issues.

Early Intervention & Applied Behavior Analysis

Early intervention and applied behavior analysis are quite similar and often inclusive of each other. As a whole, applied behavior analysis has a broad reach and can refer to behavior improvement strategies for individuals ranging from school-aged to adulthood. Early intervention often incorporates applied behavior analysis principles in efforts to identify and prevent behavior or developmental concerns.

Both early intervention and applied behavior analysis require behavioral analysis from a behavioral analyst. With this process, behavioral therapists will analyze a child as they interact in a variety of settings and document any activity that they feel may signal developmental issues.

What to Do if You’re Concerned about a Child’s Development

Parents and family members want what is best for children, so it is no surprise that there may be a concern as to why a child isn’t progressing at a similar rate as their peers. In efforts to diminish as much worry as possible, parents can follow these steps to be proactive about their child’s development:

  1. If a child appears to be developing differently from most of their peers, parents should speak directly with the child’s doctor.
  2. Speaking with a doctor is an important first step, as in our society, it is far too common to quickly turn to Google to try and find answers. While Google provides a wealth of informative information, there is also some misleading information that can do more harm than good.
  3. After speaking with your child’s doctor, they may refer you to an early intervention program within your community. With this program, your child will be evaluated for free by behavioral professionals. If there appears to be a developmental disability, an early intervention program can be established immediately.

Benefits of Early Intervention

One of the essential benefits of early intervention is its potential to identify developmental issues at an early age, far before they become problematic for the individual or others. Through early intervention programs and services, children have the opportunity to receive the education and support that they need to progress. This then leads to improved academic success and social skills later on in life. Early intervention is also beneficial for the family, as though such program family members are able to educate themselves and find psychological and emotional support as they seek to improve the development and overall life of their child.

As a child progresses, family members have the opportunity to transition their child into a pre-school applied behavior analysis program, which can further assist the child in their developmental or behavioral needs. In any case, whether it be early intervention for a young toddler or developmental or behavioral help for a child in school, family members should be assured that they and their child can find the support that they need to refine development, increase academic performance and ultimately improve their life, in both the short and long term.

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