Today’s News and Observer headlined a study by Duke University researchers suggesting that two North Carolina early intervention programs reduce the likelihood of 3rd grade special education placements by 32%. That’s a compelling figure if accurate. The researchers indicated that such intervention addressed some learning problems and attention disorders but not physical and severe disabilities.
Numerous studies have found that early intervention does make a difference. As cited in an ERIC Digest:
After nearly 50 years of research, there is evidence–both quantitative (data-based) and qualitative (reports of parents and teachers)–that early intervention increases the developmental/educational gains for the child, improves the functioning of the family, and reaps long-term benefits for society. Early intervention has been shown to result in the child: (a) needing fewer special education and other habilitative services later in life; (b) being retained in grade less often; and (c) in some cases being indistinguishable from nonhandicapped classmates years after intervention.
Not only can we improve the lives of youngsters and their families, but we can reduce the financial cost of education as well. Although not mentioned in the Duke study, my experience suggests that early intervention makes a remarkable difference in the lives of kids on the autism spectrum. Many of my ASD students have shifted to a higher functioning level when provided effective social skills intervention in kindergarten and first grade.
Do you have a success story to share?