Understanding the Different Members of an Early Intervention Treatment Team
Here is a list of the different professionals who might be called upon to help your child.
With a background in child development, your developmental specialist works with your family to help your child achieve skills in a typical developmental order. They are able to assist children in the areas of physical skills, cognitive development, communication, social/emotional skills and adaptive skills. In addition, a developmental specialist is highly qualified to help the family address difficult behaviors in young children and help support a behavior plan.
A physical therapist (PT) has been trained to understand activities that use large muscles of the body. Your physical therapist helps your child with balance and movement and other activities that use gross motor skills. They work on movements such as rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking. A PT may also assist in making recommendations for adaptive equipment.
An expert in food and nutrition, a nutritionist helps your child with dietary skills and promotes good health through proper eating. They also supervise the preparation and service of food, develop modified diets, participate in research, and educate families on good nutritional habits.
If your child needs assistance with fine motor skills, which involve the small muscles of the body, an occupational therapist (OT) can help. Fine motor skills include reaching, grasping, picking up small objects, and self-help skills such as self-feeding, dressing and hygiene. An OT may also be helpful with feeding difficulties that involve the small muscles of the face and mouth, developing skills involving eye-hand coordination, and sensory-integration issues. An OT is able to assist your family in obtaining adaptive equipment as well.
Depending on your child’s condition, a social worker may be assigned to help your child. This person would make a home visit to evaluate your child’s living conditions and how the family interacts. The social worker can make an assessment of your baby’s social or emotional development and then provide individual, family or group counseling to the parent or other family members.
Recommending social-skill building activities for you and your child, and working to address any problems in the home or community related to your baby’s condition are other services the social worker can provide. The social worker can be instrumental in helping you identify, mobilize, and coordinate community early intervention services that your child needs.
Speech and Language Therapist
Whether your child has shown significant language delay or hearing loss, or has difficulty producing speech sounds, this type of therapist can help your child increase communication skills. A speech therapist may also work with your child if he or she is having oral-motor or feeding issues. They can help with the coordination of breathing, chewing and swallowing, and assist a family from tube-feedings to oral feedings.