Early intervention for children with disability or developmental delay

Early intervention for children with disability or developmental delay



The term “early intervention” is used to describe the services and supports that are available to babies, infants and young children with disability or other additional needs such as developmental delay.


Early intervention should happen as soon as possible after your child’s needs are identified. The services that you may be able to access as part of early intervention can include:


  • Information and planning
  • Advice on developmental needs
  • Multidisciplinary therapy (for example occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy)
  • Referrals to specialists and mainstream services
  • Coordination of services for children with complex needs
  • Support with transitioning from early childhood education to school
  • Family and individual counselling
  • Connection to supports such as support groups


Accessing early intervention


Both state and federal governments fund early intervention services for children with disability and developmental delay in Queensland. The main way that you can access early intervention is through the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach which supports children under seven years old who have a developmental delay or disability, and their families or carers. 


Early Childhood Partners are organisations engaged by the NDIS (because of their experience in early childhood intervention) to deliver the ECEI approach.


There are other state and federal government funded early intervention services and supports available such Queensland’s Health’s Child Development Program and through informal supports such as playgroups, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program. Get more info on other early intervention services


The role of therapy in early intervention


Therapy can play a very important role in early intervention. In therapy, early intervention usually focuses on supporting young children in the following areas:

  • physical development – how the body and brain works
  • cognitive development – thinking and learning
  • behavioural development
  • social and emotional development

Different therapies are used in early intervention to address these developmental areas. For example:

  • Occupational therapy can help with fine motor skills, play and self-help skills like dressing and toileting
  • Physiotherapy can help with motor skills like balance, sitting, crawling and walking
  • Speech therapy can help with speech, language, eating and drinking skills like chewing, sucking and swallowing
  • All of the above therapies can also help children with building and maintaining relationships, learning behaviours and skills.

In early intervention, a multidisciplinary approach is often recommended where different therapists work together to get the best outcomes for children with disability and developmental delay. Children may need different therapies or combinations of therapy at different stages of their development.


Further info


At Xavier our therapy team support children with disability and developmental delay through early intervention.  Take a look at the therapy page of our website for further information.


We are also Queensland’s peak body for families of children with developmental delay. Click through to the developmental delay section of our website for further info.