What Does an Early Interventionist Do?

Early Intervention

Do you want to learn more about the role of an early interventionist? These professionals work with children, typically between birth and age three, who have developmental disabilities or delays. Experts believe that the earlier a child receives services aimed at helping them reach developmental milestones, the easier it will be for them to overcome these delays. Read on to explore the duties, responsibilities, and training of an early interventionist.

The Role of an Early Intervention Specialist

When parents notice that their child is not meeting developmental milestones, or when a pediatrician or teacher raises concerns, early intervention services may be necessary. The early interventionist, together with a team of child development experts, will interview and observe the parent and child in various settings, such as at home and in school. They will gather information to make recommendations about the early intervention services that may benefit the child. This recommendation, known as an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), includes details about the child’s developmental, physical, and emotional state, as well as family information and recommendations. It also covers the services the child will receive, including when, where, and for how long, the payment arrangements, and the desired outcomes for the child’s development and well-being.

Services Covered Under Early Intervention

Early intervention encompasses a wide range of services, given the various developmental milestones children reach before age three. Some of these services include hearing loss support, family counseling, medical services, mental health support, nutrition counseling, occupational and/or physical therapy, social work, speech and language services, and vision services. The early interventionist must have a deep understanding of these services to make the best recommendations for their clients.

Background for Early Interventionists

Typically, a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience are required for this role. Early intervention specialists often hold a degree in psychology, child development, social work, education, special education, or a related field. In many cases, a master’s degree in early intervention is required, along with state-specific certifications. Beyond a thorough understanding of child development, early interventionists must possess excellent interpersonal skills due to their close work with families, as well as the ability to navigate the complex web of health and social services. One common career path is a bachelor’s degree in special education followed by a master’s degree in special education with a focus or certificate in early intervention.

Early Intervention Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about early intervention, there are federal, state, and non-profit resources available to help. Some of these include The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, and The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families.

In general, the work of an early interventionist varies based on the individual child, background, and situation, so they must be well-versed in all areas of child development.

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