Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early Intervention: Good for the Young and the Old

Early Intervention in the school system is a wonderful program for the very young.

With school starting and the new screening schedule sent to us screeners (I have been a certified pre-school and kindergarten screener for about 5 years), I thought it a good idea to remind families with young children about this great service. Thinking about it more, early intervention is good for families taking care of elderly parents as well.

Early intervention applies to children of school age or younger who are discovered to have or be at risk of developing a handicapping condition or other special need that may affect their development. Early intervention consists in the provision of services such children and their families for the purpose of lessening the effects of the condition. Early intervention can be remedial or preventive in nature--remediating existing developmental problems or preventing their occurrence.
Early intervention may focus on the child alone or on the child and the family together. Early intervention programs may be center-based, home-based, hospital-based, or a combination. Services range from identification--that is, hospital or school screening and referral services--to diagnostic and direct intervention programs. Early intervention may begin at any time between birth and school age; however, there are many reasons for it to begin as early as possible.
(from 'Kids Source Online)

Both our oldest and middle boys started in a local program pretty much as soon as they moved in with us since they were starting to be enrolled while in foster care. If you have any concerns about your child, you should start with your pediatrician. In MY opinion, it is best to make sure your pediatrician feels that there may be a developmental concern and he/she can refer you to an agency or school program. Our 2 boys went to a program in a facility that is basically for developmentally delayed children and adults. But after a year maybe a year and a half, they moved onto pre-schools. Our oldest (who still wants to be anonymous) continued on through the regular school curriculum. Willie continued on through Special Ed with an IEP. Either way, the Early Intervention program was great. I was able to stay during their sessions and watch and they loved it as the teachers 'played with them' and worked with their plan.

The same concept of early intervention is good for the elderly. My mother was concerned as she got older and started developing slight tremors since Parkinsons runs in the family and was forgetting things occasionally. We also have dementia, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart conditions, diabetes -- my future should be an interesting roll of the dice -- maybe whatever I get, my mind may be at a point that I won't care!! Close to the end of her time, she did have mental issues that we were not sure if it was dementia or delirium (see said post "Delirium or Something Else").

Anyway, what I was getting to WAS mom decided that she wanted to get checked out and was referred to a local Memory and Aging Clinic dealing with the mental status in the elderly. We went several times over a couple of years to get tested, reviewed, have a check-up. The doctors were wonderful, very easy to talk to, work with, patient, pleasant. They made the experience very comfortable. While mom was being tested, I was filling out a questionnaire dealing with how I see her going through her daily life skills. The testing did not take long and it was some visual and some memory testing. Also there was an exam for the Parkinson's.

According to them, there was no worry about the Parkinson's and the level of forgetfulness was normal for someone in her a 80's. This put mom's mind at ease. It was great because they were always available for talking on the phone if we had any concerns or questions. The doctors said that if at any of her future visits they found that there was evidence of dementia or Alzheimer's, there are very good new medicines that have slowed its progression. The doctors were very confident in trying these meds. They said there has been good results with these meds when given at the first signs of Alzheimer's.

We have tried talking to my in-laws since they have issues but they will not budge on going. I suggested to a friend whose mom is having memory issues to try and take her. I don't know if they don't want to find out there may be a problem or they don't want to go to a clinic based in a hospital known for being a place for people with mental issues and addictions. Either way, it is better to go to get checked out no matter where the program is than to worry your family about your condition. If there are meds out there that help, take them and you can spend more quality time with your family.

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