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How Parents are Involved in Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention involves parents and therapists working together

Finding out that your child needs early intervention services can be overwhelming. If you’re new to the process, you may assume that the therapist or teacher will focus solely on your child. Actually, early intervention is a team effort that involves your entire family, especially parents or other caregivers. While therapists will sometimes work directly with your child, their main objective is to support caregivers by teaching you strategies you can use with your child during and between visits. You’ll work together to come up with a plan and then brainstorm the best way to achieve it.

Role of Parent or Caregiver

You know your child best! The relationship between parent and child is the most important relationship in the early intervention process. You’ll work with the service provider to set appropriate goals that make sense for your child and your family, which can be adjusted if needed. During home visits, you’ll learn specific strategies to use with your child in between visits to help them achieve these goals.

Role of Teacher or Therapist

Your early intervention provider has been trained in child development (as well as specific areas of expertise, such as speech and language development) and has extensive experience working with children and their parents. Once goals have been set, they’ll teach you strategies to help your child achieve these goals and answer any questions you may have. They’ll ask how things have gone between visits and help you adjust strategies as necessary.

Tips to Make Early Intervention More Successful

1) Actively Participate in Home Visits

Our goal isn’t only to teach a child new skills, but also to teach parents how to teach their child. That’s because you spend much more time with your child than we do! You will need to continually reinforce these skills in between home visits by using the strategies we develop. It’s important to watch how we interact with your child, ask questions, and provide input so you can continue the learning process once we are gone.

2) Incorporate Strategies Into Existing Routines

We know parents are busy, and it can seem overwhelming to add something extra to your day. That’s why early intervention is more successful when you incorporate strategies into things you’re already doing with your child. For example, if you need to practice sounds, you could do that during mealtimes or when you greet them after getting home from work. When you tie strategies to existing activities, it will help you remember and won’t feel like a burden.

3) Be Honest About Progress

You are the expert on your child. It’s important to be honest about how they’re doing between visits. That includes how often the strategies were practiced, and how your child responded. Your therapist needs to know if they are developing new skills or losing mastery of previously existing skills. Honest communication will help us adjust the plan as necessary to make sure we’re achieving the best outcomes for your child.

4) Ask Questions

If you don’t understand something we’re doing, please ask! No question is too small when it comes to your child. We will happily re-explain if you don’t understand a strategy. You can also ask us questions about your child’s development. We can recommend books, articles, and websites to help you learn more. Not everything you read on the internet is true. Please allow us to share our knowledge to make sure you’re getting accurate information.

5) Involve Siblings and Other Family Members

It’s great to involve other children in the home visits, as long as they aren’t a distraction. Older siblings can be excellent role models. Involving other children in the process can also keep them from feeling jealous of the attention their sibling is receiving.

6) Be Respectful of Appointments

If you need to cancel or reschedule a home visit, please let your provider know as soon as possible. While it’s important to make these visits a priority, you should cancel them if your child or any other member of your household is sick or may be contagious (has a fever, is vomiting, has a severe cough, or has lice). Therapists work with many families, and don’t want to spread germs from one home to another.

7) Follow Through on Plan Between Visits

Life happens, and we understand that. But in order to see progress in your child, it’s important that you follow through on your part of the plan we create together in between home visits. Consistency and repetition are an essential part of learning. When we’re able to incorporate strategies into activities you already do with your child (see #2) this becomes easier and may even be fun!

We’re Here to Support You

Early intervention is not just for your child. Your teacher or therapist is there to help you help your child reach their goals. We’ll provide hands-on learning of the strategies and tools you can use to assist in your child’s development. As they learn new skills, this will strengthen your existing relationship and help your entire family thrive.

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