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Module Two: Lesson One

Getting Information from the Family

The third purpose of understanding the family ecology is to get information that is going to be important to us as we plan services and deliver services. This is where the ecomap comes in. In Module Four: First Contacts-Building Relationships with Families, you will learn the specific Early Steps policies and procedures for conducting first contact activities and strategies for practice, including the development of an ecomap, as recommended by Robin McWilliam.

In the next video clip, Dr. McWilliam talks about the importance of the ecomap in understanding the family ecology.

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Text version

The ecomap is a powerful little thing that you can do during intake. That's usually when you do it, but I want everybody to know about it, because if it doesn't get done at intake, and you're a service provider who starts working with a family after the IFSP has been developed, and no one else has done an ecomap, you could do an ecomap. It only takes ten to fifteen minutes. This is really important, because you are doing so much other stuff at intake visits, that you can't have something really involved, like a routine's based interview, which I am going to describe next. That just simply takes too long to fit into an intake visit, but an ecomap, you could. And despite appearances, it is actually non-intrusive, and families like the ecomap. They often will look at the map that you've drawn with them, you're doing it with them, and they'll say, "Gosh, I never realized how many people I'm involved with."

It's also interesting to know that in places when we first meet families, they will identify quite a lot of supports in their informal support network, but when they start getting early intervention that involves multiple visits by multiple professionals, in one week, we find that over time, the informal support strength goes down, while the formal support strength goes up. In other words, their contacts with their family, friends and neighbors decreases if they have highly service intensive early intervention, mostly because they just don't have time for everything, and since they're devoted to their kids, they're making time for PT, speech, OT, early special instruction, and whatever. They're making more time for all that, they have less time for the other, so we're replacing informal support with formal support.

Well, guess which one is good for the marathon, and which one is good for the sprint. You know, we're out of there at age three, well, other people take over, but the relationships with the professionals are short lived, whereas the relationships with informal supports is supposed to last for a long time.

 

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