Human Development and Family Studies
Internship; Early Intervention; In-Home Therapy; Student Preparation; Impact; Internship Preparation
Early childhood intervention programs were introduced in the 1960s, and professionals have recognized the benefits of intensive therapy and education starting when the child is an infant up to the age of three. Working with a child in a comfortable environment, such as their own home, preschool, child care center or even the community has many benefits. Conducting sessions in a more everyday environment encourages family interaction and support. When a family member, caretaker, or even teacher is present to witness the therapy session, they are more likely to be comfortable carrying these techniques over into the everyday routine. Working with a child in his/her own home also allows for the the therapy to focus on everyday issues. In this way the professional can tailor activities and goals specifically to the child and take into account the family’s or teacher’s concerns. Within the field of early intervention most programs use an interdisciplinary team approach in which health care professionals from different fields, including occupational therapy, speech pathology, and nutrition, work together toward a common goal for the child. The children and their families receive resources and support for the child's physical, cognitive, and social/emotional development while the family’s diversity is respected.
As a result of the specific developmental needs of infants and toddlers, the content and practices of early intervention service delivery is quite different than those of school-age children. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments of 1997 specify that the individual needs of infants and toddlers and their families should be met through EI programs and the professionals within them. Concerns within the field include the high turnover rate, insufficient availability of training specifically in early intervention, and feeling by students that they have not been exposed to content related to infants, toddlers and families.
After completing an internship in early intervention in the fall of 2014, I became very interested in this particular area of focus and its challenges. The goal of this project is to look into the outcome and influence of an early intervention internship experience on the lives of the student interns. Valuable information about the internship program was collected directly from the interns and supervisors about their experience with the program and its future impact through personal interviews.