“We came with our babies in our arms, and you taught them how to walk. They came without any words, and you taught them to laugh and sing. When we despaired about our children’s future, you taught us to control our own destiny. We came to you confused because our children didn’t fit in, and you taught us to celebrate their differences.”— Timmy’s mom, Sultan Early Intervention Program Participant

Early intervention is designed to help infants and toddlers and their families work toward developmental goals at the time in their lives when they are most ready to learn and can benefit most from intervention. We provide a coordinated, family-centered, culturally-sensitive, and comprehensive program to families with children from birth to age 3 who are experiencing or are at risk for developmental delays to optimize development and achieve the highest possible level of functioning.

Easterseals Hawaii’s Early Intervention program was one of the first of its kind in the United States. The program is funded by the State of Hawaii Department of Health – Early Intervention Section.

The program includes:

  • Evaluation in all developmental areas including: cognition, language, gross motor, fine motor, social-emotional and self-help skills
  • Occupational, physical and speech therapy consultation
  • Early childhood special instruction services
  • Establishment of an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP)
  • Parent education and support
  • Coordination of services with the child’s family, pediatrician, other medical specialists, or agencies
  • Facilitate acquisition of adaptive equipment
  • Social work services
  • Information and referral services as needed or requested
  • Transition planning and assistance to other programs when desired or appropriate

What is an IFSP?

Establishment of an Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP); (subsection)

The IFSP is a written document developed by a team of individuals including the child’s parents and representatives from the state’s early intervention program. The IFSP includes statements about:

  • The infant/toddler’s present levels of development based on objective criteria;
  • The family’s resources, priorities and concerns about enhancing the development of the infant or toddler with a disability;
  • Measurable progress the infant/toddler is expected to achieve as a result of receiving services; the criteria, procedures and timelines that will be used to determine his/her progress; and whether modifications or revisions of the outcomes or services are necessary;
  • The specific early intervention services necessary to meet the unique needs of the infant or toddler and his/her family, e.g., frequency, intensity and service delivery method;
  • The appropriate natural environment in which early intervention services may be provided and a justification of the extent, if any, to which services will not be provided in a natural environment;
  • The projected dates for initiation of services and the anticipated duration of services;
  • The service coordinator that will be responsible for implementation of the IFSP (Individualized Family Support Plan) and coordination with other agencies and persons; and
  • Steps necessary to support the toddler’s transition to preschool or other appropriate services.


Ages: 0-3

Occupational Therapy service focuses on an infants or toddler’s ability to perform self-care routines (such as feeding) play skills and social skills. Our licensed occupational therapists share their knowledge with families about the stages of development and how to promote the appropriate milestone’s in a child’s physical, mental and behavioral development. They also address the needs of children with sensory processing problems. Feeding issues may be addressed by the speech-language therapist or the occupational therapist.

Physical Therapy service focuses on preserving and developing movement functions such as crawling and walking. Our licensed physical therapists share strategies with families including the use of use exercise, assistive devices and special techniques to encourage independence.

Speech Therapy services focuses on teaching families about the process of communication, which is being able to make requests, expressing feelings, etc. Our licensed speech pathologists teach families strategies for communicating with their non-verbal infant or toddler through gestures and signs, and for developing receptive and expressive language skills within the daily activities of the individual families. Feeding issues may be addressed by the speech-language therapist or the occupational therapist.

Special Instruction services work with families to focus on addressing the cognitive thinking/understanding/problem solving/preschool readiness skills) and social development of the infant or toddler. Teachers work collaboratively with the team (OT/PT/speech therapist) to meet the needs of the child. Special instruction is provided by teachers with their Master’s degree in Special Education or by teachers with a Bachelor’s in Education or related field.

Ages: 3 – 5

Children not eligible for services from another funder (e.g. Department of Education) may be eligible for speech therapy services which may include evaluations and direct therapy. Limited speech therapy services are available for children between the ages of 3 – 5 years 11 months on the islands of Oahu and Kauai through funding from the Oscar & Rosetta Fish Speech and Forensics Fund (administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation) and other private foundations and funders. Families are required to participate in sessions and follow up with activities on a daily basis at home.