What is early intervention?

Illustration: Mamma och barn leker med små bilar på golvet.

What does “early intervention” mean?

Early intervention means applying a conscious strategy to support the child’s development while he/she is still very young. It is important to encourage young children to start playing games and communicating early, because this lays the foundations for the child’s continued development. Most children take care of their own development by trying to communicate and make contact with other people. Others are not as naturally social and have fewer opportunities to participate in play and communication. Children today are spending more and more time in front of various screens. This means that almost all children have fewer opportunities to participate in games and communication than they actually need. The World Health Organization (WHO) has therefore issued guidelines that children under the age of two should not spend any time at all in front of screens.

Research demonstrates that children develop most during the first three years of their lives. It is therefore important that we do not wait for our children to have to catch up in their development, but instead to do what we can to support them. Adults must take responsibility for ensuring that children have plenty of opportunities to practice playing and communicating. We can use different strategies to encourage children to communicate and interact with us as much as possible during the day. This also reinforces the bond between the child and the adult.

What is “typical development”?

Most children develop quickly during the first years of their lives. They take care of their own development by exploring and interacting with people and objects in their immediate surroundings. This is how they develop their motor skills, problem solving capacity, ability to interact, communication skills and ability to play. When children learn new skills, this opens up the opportunity for continued learning. For example, when children learn to point, they can use this skill for new social initiatives. They can influence adults’ attention to show them what they think is fun, what they want to have, or to ask an adult what something is called. In this way, children continue to learn new things.

Visit 1177.se to find out more about what children should typically have learned at different ages.

Should I be concerned?

If a child is having difficulty communicating, playing and interacting, this may be an early sign of autism. Autism is the name of a neurological disability that affects how a child experiences and interacts with his/her surroundings.

Autistic children have difficulty with social interaction and communication. This is often signaled at an early age by a child making few gestures, not making eye contact, appearing uninterested in playing with others, and being late in learning to speak. In addition, autistic children often display repetitive behavior and limited interest. It is common for them to prefer specific objects or activities, which they repeat over and over again. Autistic children can devote a lot of time to activities “in a world of their own”. They can thus become experts in certain activities, but fall short when it comes to interacting, playing and communicating with other people.

Our Child Has Autism

A film about early intervention. 


This page has been created by the Health and Rehabilitation Division of Uppsala County. The information is intended for everyone looking for hints about how to encourage children to engage in play and communication. 

To contact the person responsible for the content on the page, send an email to: habiliteringen@regionuppsala.se