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Career Story: Early Intervention Developmental Specialist

Early Intervention Developmental Specialist

Job Title: Early Intervention Developmental Specialist

Type of Company: We promote the self-sufficiency of disadvantaged people through behavioral health care that is grounded in the community.

Education: BS, Education, Lesley University (Cambridge, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked in child-care centers for eleven years with infants and toddlers before discovering Early Intervention.

Job Tasks: On average I see five clients a day, at their homes. They range in age from as little as six weeks to 3 years old; none are any older than three. Since I see them at their homes, I mostly work on assisting their parents with improving their language skills, their motor skills and their cognition. But I also help families with their day-to-day organization and offer my support during doctor's appointments.

On a typical visit, we begin by assessing the child to determine where his strengths are and where he could use some additional support. We then work with his parents or guardians to determine what their priorities are. This determines what we do in our one-hour therapy session. For example, if the child has been slow to start talking, we work on helping him express himself verbally. If a family is living in a shelter, we help them find permanent housing.

Each worker also develops a specialty area such as organization, potty training, community resources, infant massage or sign language that the families can utilize if they need. We also help the families when the child is about to turn three. Our services end when the child turns three, but if a child has special needs, he (or she) is eligible to receive services from the school department. We will make referrals to the school department or to any other agency the family requests. We help to transition the child and family into the next stage of their lives.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of the job is seeing how some people live. I had never experienced being in a shelter before, or being in the projects. A caring person sometimes has trouble separating work from home due to this problem and usually cannot last in this career because of it.

The best part of the job is knowing that you are really making a difference in the lives of children and their families. When you bump into the parents years later and they thank you for being so understanding, or helping them through a tough part of their lives, it is a great feeling!

Job Tips: When you go into people's homes, the boundary between work and home can get blurred. You need to remember that you are in the home as a professional and as such, should not talk to the family about your personal issues or purchase items for the families using your own money. We are there to teach them how to become self-sufficient, not more dependent on others.

Additional Thoughts: One of the most important qualities for success in this career is acceptance. If you can accept the families and children for who they are, then you can truly succeed in Early Intervention.

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