When addressing any issue, educators must do so early. The same is true for special learning needs in students. Early intervention is a series of skills designed to offer support to students with different special needs at the earliest possible opportunity.
Intervention in education is an ongoing process, and teachers are always looking to identify potential issues and ensure that their students are learning well. In the Educational Specialist in Teaching and Leading – Special Education online program from Northern Kentucky University, you'll learn how to deepen these skills, along with other strategies for improving your classroom environment so you can provide a better learning experience for your students.
Benefits of Early Invention
Prevents falling behind
According to the CDC, children learn fastest during their first three years, and crucial development continues to occur during the early grades of school. By having their special needs recognized earlier, children can receive the accommodations to learn at their best. Intervention is "more likely to be effective when it is provided earlier in life," writes the CDC.
Helps support families and guardians
Early childhood struggles can affect parents and siblings as well. The Therapeutic Early Intervention Services website notes that families often encounter "frustration, stress, disappointment, and helplessness" when trying to understand and deal with learning disabilities and other special needs, particularly if those issues remain unaddressed. Engaging with early intervention services sooner gives the entire family the tools and understanding to help children with their learning needs. As parents better understand their children's difficulties, these steps can also help them feel more empowered to assist in their child's education.
Develops collective understanding
Beyond academics, early intervention services also set children up for improved social success in schools. Emotional Intelligence (EI) helps kids with special needs better connect and respond to those around them and gives them the confidence to understand their own needs, which are both important elements for good social relationships.
Types of Special Needs
While early intervention begins in a child's first three years, the process of identification carries into a child's K-12 school career as well.
Disabilities and disability categories to be aware of include:
- Specific learning disability (SLD), such as difficulties in reading (dyslexia), math (dyscalculia) and writing (dysgraphia)
- Speech or language impairment (SLP), such as stuttering, pronunciation or other measurable language issues
- Other health impairment (OHI), such as ADHD, diabetes or epilepsy
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism
- Cognitive issues surfacing as poor communication, inadequate self-care and a lack of social skills
- Emotional disturbance (ED), such as anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression
What to Watch
Signs of learning disabilities and special needs can manifest in a variety of ways, affecting physical skills, social skills, communication, problem-solving and cognition, as well as self-help activities like dressing oneself. Specific, noticeable difficulties in any of these areas could signify more substantial issues.
When watching for potential early intervention, educators should be aware of implicit biases. The NCLD points out that "significant disproportionality" exists among non-white students and children who have had extreme experiences in their personal lives. These traits are often misidentified as learning disabilities. By better understanding the systemic and cultural issues that contribute to the diversity of student upbringing, educators can more accurately identify special needs sooner rather than later.
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