Emily is an Early Childhood Interventionist
Early childhood interventionists provide support to families and children with diagnosed disabilities and special needs through coordinating services, programs and resources that promote children’s growth and development during the critical early years between birth and school entry.
Emily works with families of children with diagnosed disabilities and/or developmental delays. Through home visits, preschool/ daycare visits, as well as consultation with other professionals she builds and implements individualized developmentally appropriate programming for the children and supports families.
Early interventionists must have an undergraduate degree that reflects knowledge of child development, so graduates of the Child and Youth degree program are the prime candidates for new positions in early intervention. “I think having a Child and Youth degree really gave me the knowledge to understand how children learn and grow and be able to practically apply it to families and for families.”
In her role as team coordinator, Emily often chairs multidisciplinary meetings of parents, speech/language pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists, teachers, physiotherapists and other specialists. She analyzes and organizes the information discussed at those meetings to develop and update action plans such as IPPs, IFSPs and RBPs that include developmental goals and strategies for each child.
Emily generally schedules two home and/or daycare visits a day, ranging in length from one to two hours each, depending on the needs of the child and family. Her diverse caseload includes children with various needs and different learning styles. Before leaving the Sackville/Bedford Early Intervention Centre she selects from their resource library various activities, games and toys designed to promote growth and help children reach targeted developmental milestones. She visits daycare centres to work with teachers to create specific developmental programming and interventions. In the home, she models activities for the family, observes, answers questions and gains information about the child so she can help parents implement strategies to promote their child’s development.
Emily says early interventionists must know how to keep children motivated, learning and engaged, while educating and helping parents so they feel comfortable in their role of providing those services. “They only see us for a few hours a month and the parents are the ones doing the work,” says Emily. “My job is more of a vehicle for the families to learn how to best support their child.”
In this profession children’s achievements, large and small, are celebrated. Emily’s face lights up when she speaks of a little girl with Down syndrome who learned how to say, “No!” “It was the biggest celebration and Mom and I were so excited. She’s actually saying ‘no'”. “She knows she has rights to agree or disagree and to make choices.”
Whether it is learning a new word, being able to manipulate a wheelchair or learning how to crawl, Emily says whenever she walks into a family’s home there is always some new event worth celebrating, however big or small it may be.