Early Intervention Programme

St Nicholas Home started the first Early Intervention Program for children with visual impairment in the country in the year 1991. The program grew from strength to strength and moved to serve not only children in Penang but extended its services to cover children from the states of Kedah, Perlis and Perak. We are proud to say that since then, the program is back on solid ground and again spreading its wings.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY INTERVENTION


Early intervention is a process whereby babies and young children with visual impairment both totally blind and low vision children who face considerable risk developmentally are given help and support in learning skills, thus helping them to develop in the areas of psychomotor, cognitive and social to the most optimum level possible. Early intervention extends support and counseling to parents of children with visual impairments to help them cope with the trauma, emotions and challenges of caring for their children.

Absence or lack of vision in children with visual impairment affects their learning of skills as they are not able to see to imitate like other children. Basic skills involved in daily living, orientation and mobility and grooming need to be taught directly and in small steps before a task can be accomplished. The same approaches are involved in the teachings of physical skills like walking, running and jumping. Concepts, to need to be explained carefully to the children as the sense of touch which is the usual substitute for the sense of vision is definitely inadequate and inefficient compared to vision which is all encompassing. Social skills need to be taught as many of our children with visual impairment may not realize how to sit properly, eat gracefully or to face the people that they are talking to. If early intervention is not carried out as soon as the diagnosis of the visual impairment, then the child is at a high risk of developing secondary disabilities.

HOW THE EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAMME WORKS

  • The Early Intervention Program is a home-based program whereby our full-time coordinators, makes frequent visits to the homes to give advice, support and help parents with strategies and approaches on how to raise their child with visual impairment.
  • An interdisciplinary approach is adopted whereby the assistance of ophthalmologists, optometrists, social workers and other health care workers from various agencies and ministries are sought in the coordination of early intervention services to the family.
  • An Individualized Training Plan (IEP) is drawn up to meet the individual needs of every child every 6 months based on assessment profiles and priority goals of the parents.

Assessments of the various developmental domains namely, cognitive, language and communication, daily living skills, socialization, gross and fine motor skills are carried out.