Early Start programs provide services to children up to three years of
age who are at high risk of a developmental disability. Programs emphasize
the development of language, personal, social, cognitive, and motor skills,
under the guidance of specialists in child development, occupational therapy,
physical therapy, and speech therapy. These services can often help prevent
or lessen the effects of a long-term disability.
Specific services can include an infant development program in a preschool
center, and therapists who provide services in the family home. Many parents
find that the programs provide valuable opportunities for group socialization.
A baby or young child may be considered at high risk if one or more of
the following is present:
- Delay in one or more developmental areas.
- Medical issues or complications such as severe breathing problems,
central nervous system infection or bleeding, low birth weight, prematurity,
birth defects, failure to thrive, and exposure to toxic chemicals or
drugs during pregnancy.
- Parent(s) with a developmental disability.