Early childhood, including the prenatal period, is a critical time for brain and organ development. Early intervention identifies and provides effective early support to young children who are at risk of poor outcomes. Effective early intervention works to address diagnoses of IDD and implement evidence-based interventions as appropriate. Early interventions not only give children the best start possible, but also the best chance of developing to their full potential. Intervention is likely to be more effective when it is provided earlier in life rather than later. Though intellectual and development disabilities are lifelong, children can still make progress and thrive.
Education, research and advocacy reduces the incidence and limits the consequences of intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Every person has the right to grow and develop in nurturing environments that are free from abuse and neglect, free from disease and safe from injury regardless of their social or economic status.
It is The Arc New York’s position that:
- Prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care, including frequent physical/developmental checks and adequate nutrition, as well as available and accessible support services, including genetic testing and counseling to high-risk populations;
- Education on the risks of exposing the fetus to X-rays, smoking, alcohol and drugs, prescription and non-prescription medications, and sexually transmissible diseases;
- Immunization against contagious diseases prior to pregnancy;
- Access to primary medical, dental and mental health services during pregnancy;
- Access to services for all infants and toddlers who need help, regardless of family income. Services should not be denied to a child just because his or her family is not able to pay for them;
- A concerted effort to provide services in home and community environments to the maximum extent possible for the child;
- Mandatory newborn screening programs done within a time frame that guarantees accurate results and treatment for metabolic disorders such as phenylketonuria, galactosemia and hypothyroidism;
- Advocating for public policies that improve public health and foster education, research and advocacy, reducing the incidence and limits the consequences of intellectual and other developmental disabilities;
- The prevention of childhood injuries resulting in intellectual and other developmental disabilities, including mandatory use of seat belts, safety seats and helmets;
- Removal of contaminants, which are known contributors to intellectual and other developmental disabilities;
- Enforcement of existing public policy designed to prevent intellectual and other developmental disabilities;
- Recognition of the importance of prevention and the responsibility to take a proactive role in educating the public about the known causes of intellectual and other developmental disabilities and ways in which they may be prevented;
- Advocacy to ensure that families in which one or both parents have an intellectual and other developmental disability receive all of the supports and services necessary;
- Infants and toddlers, birth through age three years, must have access to early intervention services administered and funded through the NYS Department of Health, for evaluation, eligibility determination, and if found eligible, appropriate intervention services to improve child and family development.