Early intervention services are important for all children with a disability. They can help your child develop skills in play, communication, social relationships and functional behaviours. They can also help increase your child’s independence and ability to adapt to their environment and improve their readiness to participate in child care, kindergarten and school.
Early intervention services provide a range of supports for families of children with a disability or developmental delay, from birth to school entry including:
- information and planning
- advice on your child’s developmental needs
- multidisciplinary therapy to support your child’s development and help them reach developmental milestones
- referrals to other specialist and mainstream services
- coordination of services for children with complex needs
- support with transitioning to a kindergarten program and school
- counselling and linking families with other families and support groups.
Accessing early intervention support
Both the Queensland Government and the Australian Government fund early intervention services for children with disabilities in Queensland. The main services available include:
- The Better Start initiative provides funding and Medicare rebates for early intervention services and treatments. Eligible children are aged under 6 years and have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down, Fragile X, Prader Willi, Williams, Angelman, Kabuki, Smith-Magenis, CHARGE, Cornelia de Lange or Cri du Chat syndromes, microcephaly, or a moderate or greater vision or hearing impairment, including deafblindness.
For information about the initiative including how to register your child, visit Better Start initiative or call the helpline on 1800 778 581.
- The Family and Early Childhood Service supports families with a child aged up to 6 years who has or is at risk of a significant developmental delay. These services can support your child in their play and independence, as well as developing their communication skills, and gross and fine movements.
- Early Childhood Development Programs and Services provide multidisciplinary therapy and early intervention services to children from birth to prior-to-Prep age who have a suspected or diagnosed disability with significant educational needs. These programs and services are provided by the Department of Education, Training and Employment. For further information call (07) 3405 6349.
Queensland Health provides early intervention services to children with a moderate to severe developmental delay or disability. Child Development Services include:
Local area coordinators are a Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services initiative that links children with a disability and their families in regional, rural and remote areas with supports and services relating to their needs and interests, including accessing visiting specialists.
Your GP, paediatrician or child health nurse should be able to refer you to a range of therapists. Alternatively you can search for therapists in your local area through the following professional therapy associations:
- The Australian Physiotherapy Association
- Speech Pathology Australia
- Occupational Therapy Australia
- Australian Psychological Society
- Playgroups offer a place to socialise, discuss concerns, gather information and access support while children come together and play in a safe, relaxed and welcoming environment.
- Support for parents provides information and tips from other families and to make friends with others in similar situations.
- Triple P—Positive Parenting Program can help families who have a child with special support needs to creatively problem solve and develop flexible and supportive family routines and strategies.
- Stepping Stones Triple P is also available to specifically address the needs of families who have a child with a disability.
- The Umbrella Network is based in Townsville and is a network of support and information for families who have a child with a disability.
Disability specific support groups
- Cerebral Palsy Health Programs—Children's Health Queensland provides services to children with cerebral palsy through their Paediatric Rehabilitation Service. The service is available to referred children up to 16 years of age.
- Down Syndrome Association of Queensland provides a range of supports to families of newborn babies and children with Down syndrome.
- Autism Queensland provides a range of early intervention services to children with autism and their families.
- AEIOU Foundation is an approved child care provider, delivering an intensive multidisciplinary early intervention program for children with autism.