In my humble opinion Early Intervention Programs are one of the most underfunded programs in both of the communities we lived in and it is such an essential service.
Both cities we lived in provided an early intervention specialist to work in the home with our son on some occupational and learning therapies. We qualified for both speech and OT in Phoenix and in the Carolina’s; however, due to funding issues Phoenix never found anyone for speech or OT, so all we had was our early intervention person, who worked incredibly hard, but we only had access to her once a week. We needed more and so we had to fund the speech ourselves, I never found an OT person there as we moved when our son turned 2 years old.
The Carolina’s were better, we did get a separate speech person (after waiting about 6 months), to come to our house. We had previously been seeing a therapist who we had to pay our of pocket for our speech services, it was worth it though as our son had significant speech delays. The speech person who came to the house then worked with our son for about a year after she started. We had him in the school program at 3 but felt he needed the extra hour that he also gained from having the therapist come to our home. He attended occupational therapy at a local treatment center. This was covered under medicaid and they were fantastic. He went there for 2 years and they managed to address most of his sensory processing difficulties. He would do things like balance bars, climbing and they also addressed his vestibular issues by lots of swinging and movement.
Early Intervention is offered to almost everyone at a state funded level, and often it is the only treatment people have access to, due to financial abilities. It didn’t cost anything to have someone come to our home and have an evaluation. If you think your child has any delays or needs help with speech or language you can contact your local department and have them come and speak with you. You can also talk to your pediatrician and they will be able to give you the local numbers to call to set up the evaluation. If your child has a delay you can address it quickly, better to catch up a 6 month delay than wait for them to get ‘caught’ by the school district and have a 2,3 or 4 year delay to deal with. Just again, my own humble opinion.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has a great overview of Early Intervention on their page.