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Early Intervention for children with special needs in low income communities

Our idea is a service that aims at starting, equipping and providing early intervention centers for children with special needs in low income communities. This will be a free service for the 1st five years of the child's life. .The staff will comprise of Occupational Therapists,Physiotherapists,Speech and Language Therapists and Special Education Teachers.Our goal for the Early Intervention program is to integrate as many children as possible into mainstream schools and to provide early management for all special needs conditions.The centers will offer guidance and support through individual & group sessions to educate parents,guardians & family members, and to enhance acceptance and understanding in facilitate the development of the child.

Photo of Faith Watari
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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 will be center-based, home-based, hospital-based, or a combination. Services will range from identification--that is, hospital or school screening and referral services--to diagnostic and direct intervention programs.

Who would benefit from this early intervention?

This early intervention is intended for young children with special needs, including:

- Infants
- Toddlers
- Preschoolers

The intervention is designed for children with a range of special needs, including children with:

-Autism spectrum disorders
-Cerebral palsy
-Down syndrome
-Developmental delay
-Multiple disabilities

Three main benefits of Early Intervention are:-
1. Early Intervention improves and enhances the development of a child with developmental delays, special needs, or other concerns.

2. Early Intervention provides assistance and support to empower families of children with developmental delays, special needs, or other concerns.

3. Early Intervention lays a foundation that will improve the life of the child and offer greater opportunities.


Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

This Early Intervention program is intended for young children with special needs in low income areas. These areas include rural areas plus slums that surround the large cities. This program will first be launched in Kenya. The regions in Kenya will be determined through county levels. A county that has low income rural communities will be chosen while another county in a slum area within a metropolitan city will be chosen.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1 I would partner with social workers who have the closest access to the children with special needs. They are able to help create a database of the number of children with special needs in a certain area; the types of disabilities that are seen; the mentality of the parents etc 2. I would also engage the health centers such as dispensaries, clinics, district hospitals in order to know how best to create awareness to parents and caregivers of children with special needs on early detection of a special need. 3. I would involve the local leaders in the helping to engage the community to talk about the barriers, customs, beliefs or challenges that are created or inherited concerning children with special needs. The community in turn can be helped to come up with a solution to the challenges.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

1. Training in demography and creation of a database for children born with disabilities and those that are diagnosed much later after birth e.g. in the case of a child with Autism. 2. Technical support through hiring of or creating exchange programs for Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) in Kenya. There are currently only 10 practicing in Kenya a third of whom are Kenyan. We need more support in having a team of SLTs who would be devoted to the Early Intervention Program. 3. We would need companies that are willing to donate or subsidize the cost of reading and writing aids, corrective devices such as splints plus assistive devices such as wheelchairs. 4. Expert advice from other countries that already run Early Intervention programs worldwide.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Muideen Bakare

Great Idea Faith. I would love to add you to my team.

Photo of Faith Watari

Hi Muideen that would be great! Hope to learn more from you as well.