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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Module Two: Lesson One

Early Intervention is about the Family

The second purpose of understanding the family ecology is to stress that early intervention is not about services to children; early intervention is about services to the family with a child with a disability. In this second video clip, Dr. McWilliam emphasizes that the focus of early intervention is about supporting families who have a child with a disability.

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Text version

Let me just repeat my main point here, and that is that early intervention is about support to families who have a child with a disability. It's not about services to the kid. So, but what happens is then we do our intake, and then, you know, the evaluations and IFSP and all of that, and if we're not careful, it can all seem like it is all about how bad off is the kid, and what services should we provide to the kid. So, if we start off the whole enterprise in early intervention with this focus on services, it's no wonder then that down the road the families are going to say that "I want more." Because they think that that's what it's all about.

It's all about "How much service can I get?" And so, we actually contribute to that problem, sometimes, by how we start things. So, we need to get families to understand, early on, that we are interested in the whole family, and why we're interested in the whole family. So, whether we like it or not, we are educating families about early intervention right from the beginning, 'cause most families, of course, don't know diddly squat about early intervention.

Most families have never had to come across it before, until the intake visit. And so, one of the things that we are educating them about, is that it is about families, it's not just about the child. And we have to do things with families, not just say it. I've watched a lot of intake visits where people say "We're a family; we're a family centered program. Early intervention is all about the family." They say that, and then, everything they do for the next two or three contacts has to do with kids, and not families.


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