Early Intervention: Moving Every Child Ahead


From what early intervention is to what healthcare professionals are doing to aid those affected

Childhood Developmental Delays & Disabilities

Each week in New Mexico, about 500 babies are born, and of these babies, all are at risk for a developmental delay or disability. Many factors contribute to a potential delay and disability, such as prenatal risks:

  • chronic maternal illness,
  • certain maternal infections,
  • toxin exposures
  • and nutritional deficiencies.

These factors can then lead to pregnancy-related complications, which are also linked to developmental delays and disabilities – prematurity, low birth weight and infection during pregnancy or birth.

Throughout the country, infants and toddlers are affected by developmental delays and disabilities, which can have a negative impact on their

long-term development.

There are huge differences between a developmental delay and a developmental disability.

A developmental disability is physical and mental. Affecting about 1 in 6 children in the U.S., children do not outgrow developmental disabilities, causing issues with learning and self-care. For example, down syndrome, autism and brain injuries can cause developmental disabilities, and are not learning disabilities.

Developmental delays are determined by the progress of a developmental milestones during certain times.

New Mexico FIT Program & Early Intervention

A statewide provider, the New Mexico Family Infant Toddler (FIT) Program serves infants and toddlers who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities by providing early intervention services. The program is essentially free to families in New Mexico.

Integrating routine and early intervention strategies, NM FIT Program aid children age birth to three, and these services are performed in natural environments, such as the home or other community settings – child care, Early Head Start, etc – early intervention provides activities and strategies for families to use to promote their child’s development throughout the day.

After nearly 50 years of conducted research there is evidence backed up by quantitative and qualitative evidence that early intervention increases the developmental and educational gains for the child.

According to the FIT Program and the U.S. Department of Education, early intervention improves the functioning of the family and benefits the community as a whole.

Children who receive early intervention require less special education and other habilitative services, and they progress through grade levels instead of being retained.


Eligibility of FIT Program

There are certain eligibility requirements for a child to qualify for the FIT Program.

Children must be a resident of New Mexico and be under the age of three. Children must be referred to be able to receive FIT Program services – A concern about a child’s development is enough to generate a referral.

A diagnosis or delay is not necessary to generate a referral – The FIT Program will conduct a free developmental screening to determine the child’s eligibility based on one or more of the following criteria:

  • Developmental Delay
  • Established Medical Condition
  • Medical/Biological Risk
  • Environmental Risk