If your child receives services in Philadelphia’s 0-3 early intervention system, you are entitled to therapy that is family based, located in the child’s natural environment, and culturally respectful.
And, as any parent would, you want and deserve the best for your child; a therapist that excels in his or her field.
So what makes a top therapist? Here are four things to look out for to ensure your child is being serviced by an excellent professional.
- Consistency: Your child should be serviced at the frequency outlined in his/her IFSP. If s/he receives therapy once a week for an hour, the therapist should be there every week, preferably on the same day each week. Some clinicians have difficulties with scheduling the needs of a large caseload. However, this is not your problem. Your priority is to make sure that your needs are met as well. If your child is cranky without his nap, a nap time session is just not acceptable! If the therapist cannot work with you to find a time that works for you, politely request another therapist that can.
- Communication: When you’re working with a great therapist, you’re never in the dark about what exactly s/he is doing with your child. Your therapist should be including you in every session, explaining what she is doing, and why she is doing it. Your therapist should also be discussing how you can incorporate these strategies into your daily routines. Another aspect of communication is maintaining consistency; your therapist should keep you up to speed on any absences. If s/he cannot make it to a session, s/he should let you know in advance whenever possible, and offer to make up the missed session at a later date.
- Flexibility: Every child, family, and situation is unique. A great therapist understands that different families have different needs and strives to use insightful strategies that will work for your individual and unique challenges. When you are working with a great therapist, you have a sense that the therapist “gets” your child, you are comfortable with having this person in your child’s environment. Your therapist should be someone who will brainstorm with you to find solutions that work and is not afraid to try and suggest new things to solve problems.
- Effectiveness: Every child develops at a different rate, and it is impossible to predict how well a child will respond to interventions. However, it is important that measurable progress is being made, and that the therapist is working on the goals in your child’s IFSP. As the parent, it is your role to be involved in the early intervention sessions. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist pointed questions.
- What is the purpose of this activity?
- What skills are you working on during this session?
- What can my child do that s/ he couldn’t do before?
Children do not necessarily make progress during every therapy session. However, after a number of consistent sessions, some measurable progress should be expected, whether it is one skill, sub-skill, or decrease in negative behaviors.
Once you know you are working with a great professional, don’t sit back and relax! Let the therapist teach you how to be an outstanding parent by incorporating effective strategies into your daily routines.
Together, you and your EI professional can help your child be the best s/he can be!
By Chaya Glatt