Q: What types of professionals provide services for Early Intervention?
Special Education Teacher
The certified special education teacher assesses your child’s functional abilities and learning style. The curriculum outlines developmental sequences and suggests activities to teach task oriented skills. Individualized goals address both child and family needs.
The speech-language pathologist helps your child with oral-motor/feeding skills, and receptive and expressive language abilities. The development of oral-motor/feedings skills is necessary to promote active movements of the lips, tongue and jaw. Receptive language refers to the understanding of language while expressive language refers to the use of sign language or speech. In addition, the speech-language pathologist may explore new ways to stimulate cognitive/linguistic growth. (There is a link at the end of this piece to a source for reviewing your children’s developmental (speech) milestones that will be helpful in learning more about age and milestones.)
Occupational and Physical Therapist
The occupational and/or physical therapist addresses the child’s neuro-musculo-skeletal development (such as sitting, standing, grasping objects, walking). Their goal is to build endurance for the child and to help normalize body tone and body movement. Therapists strive to educate parents or caregivers, and work with other team members on how to modify treatment or positioning, according to the child’s needs or technical devices.
The social worker provides information and emotional support for family members. At times the social worker helps to coordinate communication between parents and staff. In addition, the social worker can help a family access community resources and empower them to advocate for outside services including respite, psychotherapy, and financial entitlements.
The psychologist provides psychological and emotional support to children with special needs and their families. A psychologist helps parents to encourage age-appropriate and socially appropriate behaviors, acts as a resource for other team members, and evaluates the developmental strengths and needs of the children enrolled in the program.
The nutritionist conducts individual assessments in nutritional history and dietary intake. The nutritionist also develops and monitors appropriate plans to address the nutritional needs of children.
Ongoing Service Coordinator
At your child’s IFSP meeting, you may have selected (or your state assigned) an ongoing service coordinator. You may have chosen to remain with the initial service coordinator assigned to you by the Department of Health or you may have selected one of several individuals available to serve an ongoing service coordinator from a local agency. The person you selected is responsible for assisting you in all aspects of planning and coordinating your child’s services, implementing IFSP goals, making changes in your child’s IFSP, if necessary, and assisting with transition plans.