What Is an Early Intervention Specialist?

What Is an Early Intervention Specialist?

June 9, 2021

What Is an Early Intervention Specialist?

At About Play, we’re always talking about our amazing, passionate team of early intervention specialists and the impact they have on children and families. But if you're new to the field, you may still be looking for information about what an early intervention specialist even is. 

Look no further! Here’s a quick overview of what early intervention specialists do, what kind of training they have, and what benefits they bring to children and families.

What Does an Early Intervention Specialist Do?

In general, an early intervention specialist works with children ages 0-6 who have developmental delays or disabilities. Usually, this work is done through play in a one-on-one setting within the family’s home. Below are a few key duties an early intervention specialist takes on every day:

Identify Delays and Create an Action Plan

Early intervention specialists assess children for developmental delays or disabilities that may cause them to fall behind in certain areas of life. Some important areas where early intervention specialists assess delays include:

  • Physical and motor development skills (crawling, walking, drawing)
  • Cognitive skills (problem solving, critical thinking)
  • Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding directions)
  • Social and emotional skills (interacting with others, understanding emotions)
  • Adaptive skills (dressing, eating, toileting)

 

Then, early intervention specialists use their childhood development expertise to plan strategies that help children learn and grow in those areas. These strategies are individualized to meet the needs of each child. For example, a child with an autism spectrum disorder will have different needs than a child with cerebral palsy.

Build Skills Through Play

Once a strategy is established, early intervention specialists work on building necessary skills through play. Playing, whether it be through a simple game or a fun exercise, is one of the best ways for children to learn about themselves and the world around them. 

Children usually feel most comfortable and make the most progress in a familiar environment, so these play visits are usually done within children’s own homes. Early intervention specialists often travel to multiple homes per day working with the various children in their caseloads. 

Build Relationships With and Support Families

One of the biggest responsibilities of early intervention specialists is to build a relationship with the families whose children they work with. Caregiving for a child with developmental delays or disabilities can be challenging, so it’s the early intervention specialist’s job to communicate, collaborate, and assist families with their needs.

For this reason, early intervention specialists are often aware of other community resources that children and their families could benefit from. They provide recommendations for additional services like respite care, physical therapy, audiology, and assistive technology. 

What Training Do Early Intervention Specialists Have?

Now that you have a better understanding of what an early intervention specialist is, you may be wondering what kind of education and training is required. Here’s an outline of qualifications and skills most early intervention specialists possess:

College Degree in a Related Field

Early intervention specialists are required to complete at least a four-year degree, although some go on to pursue a master’s degree as well. Some common areas of study for them include education, early childhood development, social work, psychology, sociology, and family sciences. 

State Certification

Early intervention specialists are also required to obtain a state certification. The certification requirements differ from state to state, but are often done through a state’s department of education. The certification process is usually completed post-hire, during the onboarding process. 

Experience Working With Children

Most early intervention specialists have prior experience working with children. This could be in the fields of education, caregiving, or therapy. That prior experience is important to ensure they interact well with families and children of various ages and abilities. 

What Are the Benefits of Working With an Early Intervention Specialist?

If you think your child may be at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities, working with an early intervention specialist can be a life changing decision for your family. The sooner your child receives early intervention care, the better. You may start to recognize some of the following benefits after only a few visits: 

  • Improved understanding and expression of emotions
  • Improved problem solving and cognition skills 
  • Improved physical abilities 
  • Bolstered confidence
  • Reduced need for specialized instruction during child’s school years
  • Family support and preparedness

 

An early intervention specialist works with children to help meet their developmental needs. The About Play program is designed to improve outcomes for children with developmental delays. If you’re interested in becoming an early intervention specialist, or if you think your family could benefit from working with one, we would love to connect with you! Give us a call or contact us online today for more information.