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Career Story: Family Service Coordinator For Developmentally-Disabled Children

Family Service Coordinator For Developmentally-Disabled Children

Job Title: Family Service Coordinator

Type of Company: I work for an early intervention program in Massachusetts.

Education: BA, Liberal Arts, Bradford College (Haverhill, MA) •• MA, Counseling Psychology, Lesley College (Cambridge, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked as a counselor at a mental health clinic and as a family therapist at an early intervention program on Boston's North Shore.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for conducting intakes for families seeking early intervention services for children who are between the ages of 0 to 3. Early intervention provides services for children who have a developmental delay or a diagnosis such as Down's syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy etc. I carry out assessments to determine if a child is eligible and provide counseling services for families or parents who have children with special needs. I also run a group for children who have autism where we work on social skills and verbal communication. At least one of the parents of every child is present so I can teach them how to encourage social interactions and purposeful play.

In addition, I help families determine what services their children will need and coordinate their efforts to obtain those services: speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and so on. I attend meetings with families at the local public schools to support them through the transition from early intervention to in-school services under an Individualized Education Plan.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are seeing the progress that children make over the course of therapy. It is very satisfying to know that you are an important part of helping to improve a child's life. I enjoy getting to know families of many different economic and ethnic backgrounds.

The worst part of my job is the amount of paperwork that is required. My program is not yet computerized so almost everything is done by hand.

Job Tips: If you are pursuing a career in early intervention, learn as much as you can about typical development in children. Be sure to spend time with babies and toddlers who are developing typically so that you know what children are expected to be able to do at different ages. Also, learn as much as you can about the most common disorders and disabilities of childhood such as autism, Down's syndrome, etc.

This a job that requires flexibility and commitment to children and families. Almost all of my job occurs at families' homes, not at our office, so you need to be able to interact with a variety of people and environments.

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