A Early Intervention Special Instructor (SI) is a teacher who specializes in supporting and understanding the social, emotional and cognitive development of young children. The goal of this therapist is to increase a young child’s learning opportunities to positively impact his growth.
The special instructor works closely with parents and caregivers, so that these experiences can extend throughout a child’s daily routine. Repetition of these opportunities is important in helping young children learn. Occupational, Physical and Speech therapists construct these focused experiences as well, to help your child develop specific skills in each area.
One of the most important parts of a Special Instructors’ role is to collaborate with a child’s most important people: his parents and caregivers. As educators, the primary goal is to meet your individual child’s developmental needs. SI’s want to help students develop age appropriate play skills and meet milestones.
SI’s can best do this by working with a family to think about their routine and figure out where they can include and enhance learning opportunities. All Early Intervention therapists spend time thinking about the people, places, materials and objects that children come in contact with and inform parents about ways to use them to enrich your child’s experiences. Therapists might suggest toys that have a specific value for your child and would help them in developing particular skills. In both their relationship with children and families, Special Instructors are cheerleaders, offering emotional support and development so that everyone feels as good as possible as they are learning and growing.
Special instructors are trained educators, but for young children, this education doesn’t necessarily happen at a table or desk. They strive to offer young children multisensory and interactive experiences that can be repeated during their daily lives. Special Instructors help to modify and organize these interactions, sometimes slowing them down, or isolating a particular movement or sound. In this way, children with developmental delays can process and respond to what is happening around them. Therapists create these experiences for a child, teach them to a parent, and then help both through practice and encouragement.
All therapists in Early Intervention acknowledge the importance of “relationship” in helping support a child’s growth. Therapists must establish a secure connection with a child which builds trust as they are encouraged to take the next steps. Therapists rely on the experts; parents and caregivers, to help them get to know and understand your child, so that they can benefit from each session. Your input and participation in the session is vital. Open communication helps maximize the relationship. If you find that this is difficult with a therapist, or they don’t seem to be a match for your child, you can speak with the individual therapist or with your case coordinator about making a change.
Early intervention can have a considerable effect on your child’s quality of life and development. As your child begins, and continues to, receive services, you might consider looking for a support group with other parents who have children with special needs. Support systems can make a significant, positive impact on parents during this time. Remember that you know your child best. And please rest assured that professionals like me are here to help you, and your child, thrive.
Dana Rosenbloom has a master’s degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention and has been working with children and families for over 10 years. Dana’s Kids provides parent education, play and behavior therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. To learn more about Dana and Dana’s Kids please visit www.DanasKids.com. You can also follow Dana on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DanasKids1 and Twitter: DJRkids.