• Question: Is there an age where interventions are too late and the social oremotional damage is permanent

    Asked by tyrrellt to Kathrin, Katherine, Ian, Alice on 28 Apr 2015.
    • Photo: Alice Jones

      Alice Jones answered on 28 Apr 2015:

      No. I really don’t believe that there is.
      The research evidence points to early intervention being the best thing (and likely also most cost-effective), and this makes perfect sense – less adversity experienced, and intervention at a younger age should be the optimal situation, but the right intervention can do some very important things for older children and adults.

      I work with primary and secondary age students, and I’m just starting to do some work with adults with mental health issues too. The approaches need to be tailored to the individual’s stage of development, but there are plenty of research outcomes emerging that give me cause to feel optimistic.

      There has been a very clear message amongst policy makers that the age of three is a critical age for intervention where a child is experiencing considerable adversity (e.g. Hillary Clinton has been very keen on these early years for a while). This just isn’t as straightforward as it sounds – the cover of the Allen report that we’re familiar with is a powerful image, but it’s not an entirely fair one. Prevention and early intervention should certainly be a goal, but we shouldn’t write-off any child who misses that window.