Employee Spotlight: Rachel Weiser, MS, DT

What do you love most about working for PlayWorks Therapy?

I love the community PlayWorks provides. Every day I have the opportunity to learn new skills and tricks from my fellow coworkers and the families I work with.

What is your favorite children’s book?

I’m a big fan of anything by Mo Willems! I love his humor and the messages his stories provide.

What do you enjoy most about living in Chicago?

I love that there is always something to do in Chicago! Exploring new restaurants, going to a museum, I love being a tourist in my own city!

Would you rather a mountain or beach vacation?

This is tough for me! Both? My most recent favorite vacation was Grand Lake, CO featuring both a beach and mountains.

Share a proud “therapy moment” with one of your clients?

I was seeing a child with a gross motor delay. He was still learning how to walk. Through a motivating play scheme, I was able to see him take his first steps! It was a great moment!

What’s your hometown?

Deerfield, IL

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in social emotional development. I love helping families increase their child’s frustration tolerance and attention span to adult directed (structured) activities. I incorporate my knowledge from my previous teaching career to set my clients up for success for when they exit Early Intervention.

What do you do in your free time?

I love to do anything outdoors- especially when the weather is nice!

What is your favorite therapy toy?

I love Mr. Potato head! Mr. Potato encourage growth of symbolic play, concept knowledge, and turn taking!

What is your favorite Telehealth activity?

I love doing scavenger hunts! I will hold up colors or shapes and ask a child to find something in their home that is the specific color or shape I am holding up! It’s a great way to get the kids moving and work on following directions!

Share a fun fact about yourself:

I was an extra in the Muppets movie!

Rachel Weiser, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Employee Spotlight- Becky Clark

  • What do you love most about being a Developmental Therapist?

I love how Developmental Therapy allows me to look at the big picture to see how all the various areas of development and environment affect the others. I also enjoy the focus on a child’s social and emotional development in that bigger picture.

  • What is your favorite children’s book?

When I was a young child, it was The Berenstains’ B Bookby Stan and Jan Berenstain, much to my parents’ chagrin. Now in my sessions, I love using Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?by Bill Martin Jr. I guess there is a bear-theme in my reading choices!

  • What do you enjoy most about living in Chicago?

I enjoy Chicago’s diversity the most. It’s one of its richest assest. I also love how Chicago incorporates nature and green spaces into the cityscape.

  • What is your favorite childhood memory?

I went to a summer camp for many years in North Carolina, and each summer was a blast, but I especially remember the summers I went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. I picked wild blueberries, pet wild ponies, and enjoyed gorgeous views.

  • Mountain or beach vacation?

Mountains, hands down!

  • Share a proud “therapy moment” with one of your clients.

I had a client diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and he had been working for months on regulating his body enough to engage with others in the room. I walked in one session and knelt down to say hello and he calmly walked to me, let me take his hands, then he kissed my forehead. It was the sweetest “hello!”

  • What is your hometown?

Archdale, North Carolina

  • What do you like to do in your free time?

I work once or twice a month at the Chicago Children’s Museum and enjoy working with different populations and ages. When I’m not working, I’m going for walks to my neighborhood beach or hanging out with family and friends.

  • Fun fact about yourself?

I have been to three continents other than North America: Europe, Africa, and Oceania. I would love to see a couple more!

  • Favorite therapy toy?

Songs and books!

Becky Clark, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting

Whether your child is transitioning from the Early Intervention program to the public school system, or they have recently qualified to receive services through the school, it is important to set them up for success by advocating for them at their annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.

What is an IEP?
An IEP, or individualized education program, is designed to create a plan to ensure your child receives a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (LRE), as is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A meeting is held once a year at your child’s school to create, review, and or adjust this plan to best serve your child’s learning needs.

What can I expect?
There may be several professionals at the meeting including your child’s teacher, the special education teacher, your child’s therapists, the principal, and a representative of the school district. The team (which includes you!) collaborates and shares your child’s present level of development and what progress has been made in the last year. They discuss goals for the coming year and what services and accommodations may be beneficial and necessary.

What can I do?
1. Ask questions if you do not understand something. Every profession has their specific jargon, and it is easy for professionals to slip into the alphabet soup (IEP, LRE, IDEA, OMG!). Read over your copy of your rights that they provide and have the team review any portion you do not understand. Understanding the jargon and knowing your rights sets you up to successfully advocate for your child.

2. Bring ideas with you to the meeting about what you want for your child. This will help keep the goals relevant to your child rather than using goals that are too generic. You are a valuable and necessary contributing member of the team since you are the expert on your child. They need more from you than just your signature on forms. They need your input about your child’s strengths, areas of challenge, and what has or has not worked in the past.

3. Voice your concerns. This applies to during the meeting and also throughout the year. If you feel something is not working after an appropriate amount of time, ask to brainstorm other strategies and approaches. Remember that the laws say your child should lean more towards inclusion in a typical classroom (LRE).

Questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s IEP meeting, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Becky Clark, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Reference: Cheatham, G.A., Hart, J.E., Malian, I & McDonald, J. (2012). Six things to never say or hear during an IEP Meeting: Educators as Advocates for Families. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 44(3), 50-57.

Wrightslaw (2007). IDEA 2004 Roadmap to the IEP, IEP Meetings, Content, Review and Revision, Placement, Transition & Transfers.http://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/art/iep.roadmap.htm

Photo Credit:Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Parent Question: How does developmental therapy support speech and communication skills?

“The initial evaluation team recommended developmental therapy for my child but my concerns are with her speech. How can developmental therapy help support her speech? I thought that it focused on preschool readiness skills?” — Concerned Parent

Developmental therapy (DT) focuses on the whole child and often addresses different areas of development, including speech and communication. DT can often be used to complement and support speech therapy by helping your child learn pre-communication skills. These skills include sharing joint attention, attention span, imitation of gestures and play ideas, and general play skills and are essential in learning how to speak! This blog will explain these skills and how you as a parent can help your child with their pre-communication skills.

Pre-communication skills
Joint attention: Joint attention is when two people share attention with an object or activity. This can be demonstrated by sharing eye contact, using gestures, and/or other non-verbal and verbal communication. While children can learn some skills from toys and objects independently, they absolutely need to be able to share joint attention with another person to learn language and how to communicate with others.

Attention span: In order to learn any new skill, one must have the attention span to attend to an activity. On average, a child is expected to attend to a single activity for – at minimum – one to one-and-a-half minutes per year of age. And as they age, a child should be able to attend to several activities in a row.

Imitation of gestures: Imitation of gestures always comes before imitation of words. It is important for your child to learn that they can imitate what other people are doing! Once your child is consistently imitating familiar gestures (such as waving or clapping), novel or play gestures (feeding the baby a bottle, for example), and “invisible” gestures (this is a gesture that you can do but not see yourself do, such as sticking out your tongue or tugging your ear), we know that your child is on track to using sounds and words to communicate.

Play skills: A child’s “work” is play! It is important for your child to engage in functional play with toys to learn the concept the toys are targeting. Engaging in functional play provides your child opportunities to use language to communicate. Play is also a great measure of a child’s cognition!

How can parents support pre-communication skills?
Joint attention: Engage in a preferred activity that your child has mastered – we want to make sure they can focus on learning the skill of joint attention and not forcing too many cognitive demands at once. For example, if your child does not yet match, you would not use a puzzle for this activity. Activities with lower cognitive demands – such as popping bubbles – is much more appropriate for a joint attention activity (but if your child has mastered matching, feel free to use a puzzle!) After blowing bubbles a few times for your child, pause the activity. Give him or her the opportunity to come to you and show you that they want “more” by using eye contact or gesturing to you what they want. If they only look at or touch the bubbles, bring the bubbles near your face to encourage eye contact. Once they look to you, provide praise and blow more bubbles! Continue this routine as long as your child will tolerate.

Attention span: Toddlers are notorious for having a decreased attention span! Everything is so new and interesting to them, no wonder they want to bop around the room and get into everything! Make sure you create a learning and play space that is conducive to attending to activities. Having a large number of toys available at all times or always having the television can create many distractions for your child.

When starting to work on increasing your child’s attention span, your goal should be to complete one activity – that’s it! An activity with a clear beginning and end, such as a puzzle or book, are great activities to start with. Engaging in symbolic play with a baby doll, for example, would be considered an open-ended activity that can be finished after one minute or ten. And again, you want to choose something that they have mastered so they are not expected to complete an activity that is new or particularly challenging.

Imitation: To work on a child’s imitation skills, you can start by imitating them! If they bang a toy on their highchair, you do the same. Encourage your child to do the gesture again before imitating it again. Once you go back and forth a few times, change the gesture – rub an object on the highchair instead for example. If your child does not imitate this gesture, do it again. If they continue to not imitate this gesture, provide hand over hand assistance to show them exactly how to imitate this gesture.

Play skills: Sometimes, children need to be taught how to play functionally with objects! Just like any other skill, play needs to supported and taught and it is up to the child’s first teacher – their parents – to show them just that. Parents should be modeling appropriate play with toys and encouraging the child to do the same (this is also where those imitation skills come in handy!) Help your child master functional play by setting aside a few minutes every day to provide your child your undivided attention and PLAY!

Questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s pre-communication skills, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Kimberly Shlaes, MAT, DT
Director of Developmental Therapy Services

Reference:

Teach Me to Talk. (July 30, 2018). Sorting Out the 11 Prelinguistic Skills… Retrieved April 25, 2019 from http://teachmetotalk.com/2018/07/30/sorting-out-the-11-prelinguistic-skills/

Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Ouch! My Child is Biting!

It is never a fun moment when your child’s teacher calls, informing you that your child bit a classmate. Or what about when your child bites you or their siblings? Biting is a stressful experience for everyone involved. Let’s discuss why it may happen and what can be done to prevent it.

Is biting normal?

While not every child will bite, it is a very common behavior in toddlers. Biting usually stops by three or three-and-a-half. However, just because it is a normal stage of development does not mean it is an acceptable behavior. In order to try to prevent age-appropriate biting, we first need to try to understand what may trigger it.

Why is my child biting?

Toddlers are experiencing so many new feelings, both physically and emotionally, during this time in their development. These changes could lead to feeling the need to bite. Understanding why your child may be biting may help you support them from biting.

  • Teething – This can be a painful process, especially getting those two-year-old molars, and sometimes clenching their teeth on something (or someone) helps relieve the tension they are feeling in their mouths.
  • Sensory needs – Our bodies seek out what it needs in many different ways. Some children’s mouths need more stimulation to feel “awake” or regulated. Their bodies may also need more large muscle activities, such as running, climbing, and jumping to release that tension and energy they are releasing with their jaws.
  • Big emotions – Have you ever been so excited or angry that your clench your jaw or fists? Luckily you have the inhibition skills to avoid biting those around you in those moments. Toddlers are learning about a lot of new feelings and how they make their body feel. Sharing, tiredness, fear, and overstimulation are really tough to navigate when you’re just learning and can be overwhelming. Toddlers are also learning to be more independent from their caregivers and recognizing that things they want may not be what the people around them want for them. That causes frustration that may lead to biting too.
  • Few words – Toddlers are also learning language skills. Often times their communication skills are not developing as fast as the large emotions mentioned earlier. Biting can be an effective way to get a point across when they do not have the words to do so. You may see more biting in children who have a language delay.

What can I do?

  • Do some detective work – Are there any patterns to your child’s behavior? Do they tend to bite before lunch/nap time? Is it when other children encroach on their personal space? Have there been recent changes to their regular routine or family dynamics? By noting when biting happens most often, it may prompt you to give extra support during those times, such as offering a snack, making naptime a little earlier in the day, or having two of the same item to assist with sharing.
  • Offer an alternative – If your child is biting due to teething or sensory input, redirect them to a chewy tube or teething ring. Sometimes a wet washcloth kept in the refrigerator or freezer offers a soothing sensation to chew on for sensitive gums.
  • Model appropriate language – As mentioned before, sometimes biting gets a message across faster than words can come out. Help teach your child the power of words by modeling language they can use. For example, “I need space!” “Move, please” “My turn!” Encourage them to ask for help from an adult if their words are not enough with their peers.
  • Read books – There are many children’s book about biting, such as Teeth are not for Bitingby Elizabeth Verdick. Reading together can provide the opportunity to talk through situations without the intense emotions of the moment.
  • Reinforce expectations – Remind your child that, no, biting is not allowed. Be firm, but try to not to express anger. You want your child to know that you do not approve of the behavior, but that you still love them. Remember to replace the unwanted behavior with the preferred behavior. Example: “Ouch! It is not okay to bite. Biting hurts. You can bite this teether instead, but you may not bite your friends.”
  • Wash, rinse, repeat – Children learn through repetition. They may not remember to stop biting after the first time you redirect them. Or the fifth. Like learning any new skill, it takes time, practice, and patience. Remember that children’s inhibition skills are still developing until age four, even if they know what they are doing is wrong. And to be honest, some of us adults are still mastering avoiding the things we know are not good for us!

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s biting, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Becky Clark, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Reference:Zero to Three. (2016, February 22). Toddlers and biting: finding the right response. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/232-toddlers-and-biting-finding-the-right-response.

Lieberman, A. F. (1995). The emotional life of the toddler. New York: Free Press.

Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Teaching Play Skills to Children with ASD

Pretend play can often be very difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because it directly impacts their ability to develop and understand social skills along with communication skills. Play skills are necessary for children to establish and create meaningful relationships with peers and understand the world around them. This blog will help provide some information to help engage your child with ASD while learning new foundational and essential play skills.

Where do I start?

Just like every child is different, every child with autism is different. It is important to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Before introducing new unfamiliar activities with your child, make sure your child is at a ready-to-learn and regulated state. This means your child is demonstrating a calm body and is ready to play. It is important to reinforce eye contact and joint attention while playing with your child to help increase their engagement skills. Your child’s skill level, attention span, and interests will determine and help guide you in the right direction to begin introducing new unfamiliar play. Begin where your child is at and remember to slowly build on their current level of understanding and skill. If your child resists the new play, begin new play schemes with some of your child’s favorite games or toys. Remember, all children learn by repetition and benefit from having a model or demonstration with how to the use objects appropriately.

Sensory Play

Sensory activities include activities that stimulate our senses, whether in a positive way or a negative way using all our senses: taste, sound, visual, tactile, and smell. These different textures, colors, smells, taste, and experiences impact the way you experience the world around you. Sensory-based activities help children become engaged and focus on the activity presented. These activities can improve attention span, increase flexibility and exposure to new items, and help self-regulation. Please use caution when implementing new sensory items with your child and notice for any aversive or negative reactions.

  • Music is a great way to engage any child! Fingerplays (e.g. “Wheels on the bus”) and dancing improve your child’s attention span, imitation skills, and gross-motor coordination.
  • Water, whether it’s outside when weather appropriate or in the bathtub all year round.
  • Play-Doh (roll, squish, animal shapes)
  • Waterbeads (fill and dump, have animals swim)
  • Sand

Functional Play

Functional play is the child’s ability to use objects as they are intended and expected (e.g. block to build). Use cups to fill up and dump the water/waterbeads in the bathtub or a car to drive across the sand. Use the blocks to build a tower and crash them. Provide hands-on assistance and a demonstration if your child does not use the object functionally.

Pretend Play

Pretend play or symbolic play is when a child uses a realistic item or non-realistic item as something else (i.e. using play food or a spoon as a toothbrush). Use animals in the bathtub to walk across the tub and use the sounds associated with each animal. Once your child has mastered the play imitation skills, expand upon this play and encourage your child to have the animals go down the slide in the bathtub. Use their favorite stuffed animal during meal times and encourage your child to “feed” their animal. Continue the child’s bedtime routine with their favorite animal, while you demonstrate and explain what you are doing with your child and their animal.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s play skills, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Kelly Scafidi, MSW, LCSW, DT
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Developmental Therapist

Reference: The Australian Parenting Website (2017). Play and children with autism spectrum disorder.

Retrieved from: raisingchildren.net.au/autism/school-play-work/play-learning/play-asd.

Photo Credit: rawpixel via Unsplash.com

Facilitating Toddler Social Interactions

During the toddler and preschool years, there often is a heavy focus on pre-academic skills such as identifying shapes and colors or learning to write their name. While these skills are important, research shows that your child’s social and emotional skills during these young years are actually a better predictor of his/her academic success and beyond. The ability to inhibit impulses and practice empathy not only helps them learn in the classroom, it also helps them navigate adult life as well. The good news is that social skills are teachable at this age just like numbers and letters!

Model the Language

Healthy social skills are taught through providing models and guidance. Telling your child, “It is not okay to take a toy from someone,” lets them know what not to do, but go a step further and provide what you want them to do instead. For example with your toddler, model holding your hand out and asking “My turn?” Remember that it’s okay if the other child does not share with yours right away or vice versa. Waiting for something we want is a lesson worth learning too! You can support those skills by validating their disappointment and offering an alternative. “I know, it is so hard to wait, but I know you can do it. Would you like a book or swings while you wait?”

Provide the Opportunity

Children are hands-on learners and social skills are no different. They need the opportunity to practice skills they are learning and problem solve through tricky situations with other children. Siblings can provide some opportunity for learning these skills, but children can learn so much through same-aged peers who are working on the same skills. An older sibling is more likely to accommodate their actions, while a peer provides the opportunity to attempt to clearly effectively and appropriately communicate your child’s wants and needs. These opportunities include going to the neighborhood playground, attending music/art/tumbling classes, visiting the local children’s museum, and having play dates.

It’s a Process

Just like learning to play an instrument or a new language, it takes time and mistakes will happen. Try to be patient as you find yourself repeating the same words and actions. It’s sinking in! Reinforce their efforts and successes, and try pointing out specifics. Instead of “Good job!” try “You asked for a turn so nicely by saying ‘turn, please’!” or “You did it! You played with the blocks while you waited your turn. Now it’s your turn!”

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about facilitating social interactions with your child, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Becky Clark, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Reference:Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., & Zinsser, K. (2012). Early childhood teachers as socializers of young children’s emotional competence. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(3), 137-143.

Photo Credit:Three Angels Preschool, Infant Center, Ventura California, School via https://threeangelspreschool.org

Developmental Therapy: Destigmatized

What is developmental therapy?

Developmental therapy focuses on your child as a whole. Therapists look at a child globally (i.e. cognition, social-emotional development, speech and language development, fine motor, gross motor, and self-help skills). Developmental therapy typically begins during your child’s most significant time of development, between ages birth to three. During this time, your child is creating the foundation for their developmental track. A developmental therapist will focus their sessions on your family’s needs and your child’s needs.

What does a developmental therapist do?

Developmental therapists (DT) assess a child globally to determine their areas of strength and need. A DT also looks at your child’s home and/or school environments and their daily routine to see how their surroundings attribute to their development. DTs then service your child as needed using a combination of play and parent education. Children use their cognitive processing, memory, and attention span to regulate themselves and to help them understand their environment. DTs provide your child and your family with the tools to help them develop in their natural environment. A DT’s ultimate goal is to empower your family in understanding and navigating their child’s learning process.

What are the benefits to developmental therapy?

Developmental therapists look at how a child is developing in every area of development. Sessions may focus on joint attention, engagement, play skills (functional and symbolic), attention span, following directions, frustration tolerance, cognition, social sills, preschool readiness, etc. DTs can also provide support for your family’s daily routine goals (i.e. sleeping, meal time, going to the park). Your child’s developmental therapy may include a combination of these areas based on your family’s needs.

Common misconceptions:

Although your child may benefit from developmental therapy services as a young child, this does not mean they will always be in a special education program. Many children who benefit from developmental services are provided the tools that will help them succeed when they enter school. Developmental therapists are trained to provide the children and the families that they service with the resources to help children succeed throughout their development.

If your child is demonstrating difficulty in one or more of the areas discussed above, consider contacting one of our developmental therapists.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.comor at (773) 332-9439.

Rachel Weiser, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Reference: EB Pediatric Resources, Inc. (Chicago, IL). What is Developmental Therapy? Retrieved from: http://pediatricresources.org/developmental.html.

Photo credit: Tanaphong Toochinda via unslaps.com

What Toys Are Best For My Child?

As a walk down any toy aisle will tell you, there are many types of toys for all ages of children.  Most will indicate on the packaging what age they are geared toward (“for ages 2+”), but how do you know which toys will provide the best developmental opportunities for your child?

Choose toys that are open-ended.

Get the most bang for your buck by choosing toys that can be adapted as your child grows. For example, blocks are great for infants to bang together to practice cause and effect, as well as bringing their hands to the midline, a great exercise for the brain. Toddlers can begin to stack blocks for fine motor development. They can also use blocks to encourage imaginative play by pretending they are cars driving across the floor or as a telephone to call a loved one! Preschool children can use blocks to build more elaborate structures with playmates to encourage social skills and negotiating conflict. Blocks also enhance dramatic play and can be used to create a house for stuffed animals, a storefront for a restaurant, or bridge to connect people, things, and ideas.

Adapt “toys” you already have.

Parents joke that children often prefer the box the toy came in to the actual toy. Go with it! Let your creativity loose and find new purpose for items in your house. What about that mesh loofa? It makes a great sensory experience for infants, and it is easy for them to grasp as their hand-eye coordination is developing. It also makes a safe option for toddlers to throw and kick around the house. What about using it in paint for a unique texture on paper? Or add it your play with a doll or stuffed animal and practice the bath time routine.  The possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget your child’s favorite toy: You!

Playtime is not necessarily about the type of toy, but how it is used in relation with the caregiver. As caregivers, our schedules are packed, but even just a few moments of playing peek-a-boo your infants or singing a rousing rendition of “Wheels on the Bus,” with your toddler, complete with motions, will help your child’s brain develop synapse connections as they learn about the world around them. Point out your eyes, nose, etc.during bath time with your little one or try playing I-Spy in the car on the way to the store with your preschooler. Your child learns best in the context of a loving relationship with you, so go ahead, have a tickle-fest in the middle of that toy aisle and take advantage of the most priceless toy your child could have! You!

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about developmentally appropriate toys, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Becky Clark, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Reference: Cook, R. E., Sparks, S. N. (2008).  The art and practice of home visiting. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

Photo by Susan Holt Simpsonon unsplash.com

Early Intervention Initial Evaluation: What to Expect

Making the call to Early Intervention (EI) can be the daunting first step in addressing developmental concerns for your child. What comes next? PlayWorks Therapy’s Director of Developmental Therapy, Kim Shlaes, explains what to expect during an Illinois Early Intervention initial evaluation.

Service Coordinator
After a referral is made for your child, a service coordinator is assigned to your case. The service coordinator:

  • Is the point of contact for you and your family to help guide you through the EI process.
  • Is responsible for conducting an intake meeting to collect all the needed information and paperwork to set up an initial evaluation.
  • Coordinates the evaluation and ongoing services, should your child qualify.
  • Is responsible for writing and updating the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) based on recommendations made by providers during their initial evaluation, goals you and your family have for your child, and assessments while in EI.
  • Is responsible for informing a family of their rights while in EI.
  • Helps facilitate the transition from EI as the child ages out of the program at three years old.

Initial Evaluation
Next, your service coordinator organizes a team of at least two credentialed evaluators. The evaluation team is selected based on developmental concerns you have for your child. An evaluation team typically has a combination of the following: developmental therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and/or speech and language pathologist. Other providers, such as social workers, nutritionists, interpreters, and others are added to an evaluation team as needed.

The initial evaluation typically takes about one hour to complete. A parent/guardian is required to attend the evaluation. A typical evaluation follows the following routine:

  • Review reasons for the referral to EI, including parental and pediatrician concerns.
  • Review the child’s birth and medical history. The evaluators will also ask questions about your child’s milestones, their social history (including who your child lives with, who cares for your child during the day, any languages your child is exposed to), and your child’s opportunities to socialize with other children.
  • The evaluators take turns playing with your child.
  • The evaluators ask you several questions about your child’s development (i.e. how your child completes “self-help” skills such as eating and dressing, how they socialize with other children, how they communicate with you, how they process sensory information, etc.).
  • Evaluators then score their assessments and make recommendations for ongoing therapy or additional evaluations. If your child qualifies for services, you and the evaluators write discipline specific goals for your child, based on what your family wants to target while in EI. This part of the evaluation is the “IFSP meeting”.

What comes next?
Should you decide to move forward with Early Intervention services, your service coordinator organizes a team of credentialed therapists to provide service to your child. These therapists contact you directly to schedule your child’s therapy sessions, which are held in a natural environment for your child, most commonly your home or their school/daycare. Services typically begin within a few weeks of the initial evaluation.

Questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development or the Early Intervention process, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.com or 773-332-9439.

Kimberly Shlaes, MAT, DT
Director of Developmental Therapy Services

Photo Credit: willingness.com.mt/types-of-play-therapy/