Early intervention is critical in an infant’s learning of age appropriate development, especially in children demonstrating some form of delay in early childhood development. The sooner the child is in front of licensed professionals the more likely they are to learn, grow and thrive. Early intervention can include one, some or all of the following specialties: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, and Feeding Therapy. The goal in each of these therapies is to promote learning and advancement in order to acquire age appropriate skills. There are various programs where a child can receive these interventions and the purpose of today’s blog is to provide you with valuable information to assist in finding the right help for your child.
Important questions to ask:
- Is the person working with your child licensed to provide that specific service? For example, a Physical Therapist is required to earn a master’s or doctorate degree to deliver therapy that will facilitate the learning of developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling and walking. In a pediatric outpatient clinic such as TEAM 4 Kids, you and your child will work directly with a licensed Physical Therapist who has years of experience working with children to meet age appropriate milestones. In other programs such as the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AZEIP) your child may be assigned to work with a DSI (Developmental Special Instruction) specialist who has training in childhood development but didn’t attend formal schooling to deliver actual Physical Therapy. This specialist could be your child’s primary provider and only consult with a licensed physical therapist when questions arise.
- Does your child have needs in multiple areas? Often times, if a child is delayed in one area such as walking, they may also be delayed in other areas such as talking. Another example may be a child who requires Occupational Therapy for sensory needs may also qualify for Feeding Therapy due to aversions to certain textures of food. At TEAM 4 Kids, your child can be assessed in each of these disciplines individually, and if they qualify they will receive direct service in each therapy. They could qualify for direct therapy as much as 1-3 times a week for each discipline. This creates a comprehensive medical management team working directly with you and your child several times a week to meet desired family goals and outcomes. In other programs such as AZEIP, your child will be assigned a lead. This lead will be determined based on your child’s greatest need. The lead will be the specialist you become most familiar with and the one who comes to your house, on average 1-2 times a month. If new or additional concerns arise, this lead will consult with other specialists and return to you with recommendations or suggestions to try. These two methods vary significantly. In a clinic such as TEAM 4 Kids you and your child will be working directly with each of these specialists up to several times a week whereas in AZEIP your lead will be relaying information back and forth for you to try.
- How do you envision your child learning best? AZEIP provides service under what is called a “coaching” model. The specialist will be asking questions, observing your typical routines, answering your questions, trying some things with you and your child, and planning what will happen between now and when they see you again. I have heard several people refer to the coaching method as more of a “hands-off approach” and “teaching opportunity” between specialist and parent. Although that relationship is critical and family follow through is a must, at TEAM 4 Kids we believe the direct intervention, facilitation and handling with the child is of upmost importance. We will work directly and hands-on with your child throughout the entire session supplying them the necessary information and feedback in order for them to learn. Each session will conclude with you trying the activities we are recommending for home and answer any questions you may have. Over the years, it seems as if the hands-on aspect of treatment is getting lost in the AZEIP coaching model.
- Do I have to go the AZEIP route if my child is under 3? Although AZEIP is a good resource, you as a parent have the option to enroll your child in the AZEIP program or seek out other options such as pediatric outpatient therapy at TEAM 4 Kids. We work with children of all ages and needs, from birth to over 21. Many families are choosing to bypass AZEIP altogether and seek alternative options such as clinic-based therapies. They are seeing faster response time to get started, more intervention across multiple disciplines and rapid results.Both will use your child’s insurance to cover some or all of the cost of therapy and if your child isn’t covered under insurance cash pay options are also available.
If you feel TEAM 4 kids or clinic-based therapy in general may be a good fit for your child, please do not hesitate to call 623-322-8250 for us to answer any questions you may have.