Early Intervention and Neuroplasticity

KoolMinds Team

What is Early Intervention?

Early Intervention is the term used to describe the services and supports that are available to infants and young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families.

It may include speech therapy, physical therapy, hearing or vision services and other types of services based on the needs of the child and family.

Early intervention can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills and overcome challenges and it can increase their success in school and life.

What is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity or brain plasticity, is the brain's ability to change as a result of environmental or structural changes and adapt by forming new neural connections over time.

Neuro means nervous systems which consists of the brain, spinal cord and all the nerves that send and receive information to and from the brain. Plasticity is the quality of being easily shaped or molded. Neuroplasticity means a moldable brain.

Neuroplasticity is the reason why we can learn new skills, and why the brain can recover from injury. It is also the reason why early intervention is so important in the development of a child's brain.

Why is Early Intervention Important When it Comes to Neuroplasticity?

Children’s brains and neural networks are most adaptable during the first three years of life. As a child ages, these neural networks become less adaptable, which makes it harder to make significant changes to a child’s development.  While neuroplasticity can occur throughout our lives, its effects are seen most prominently in children’s brains since they are still developing. This means that positive outcomes from early intervention can yield the most significant and lasting results.

If reading intervention is needed the best neuroplasticity for reading intervention is between the ages 5-7. Other interventions are best done before a student reaches puberty. Remediation becomes much more complex, although not impossible, after a child is 12 years of age or older.

There are a lot of systems that have a "wait and see" approach. Meaning wait till the child fails or wait till the child is really struggling. If you notice gaps in learning, it should be addressed as soon as possible. Don't wait. The younger the interventions the better. "Wait and see" is poor advice unless the child isn't developmentally ready for a particular intervention. We need to take as much advantage of neuroplasticity when the brain is most pliable.

Articles/Resources on Early Intervention and Neuroplasticity

Videos about Early Intervention and Neuroplasticity

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[i] Alliance, C. P. (n.d.). Why neuroplasticity is the secret ingredient for kids with special needs | Cerebral Palsy Alliance. https://cerebralpalsy.org.au/sstposts/StoryId1575590115573
[ii] Elkington, H. (2022, August 30). What is neuroplasticity and how does it work? A psychologist explains. MagnifyMinds. https://magnifymind.com/what-is-neuroplasticity/

[iii] Morin, A. (2021, May 18). What is early intervention? https://www.understood.org/en/articles/early-intervention-what-it-is-and-how-it-works

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