Early Intervention, or the process of providing services, education, and support to young children and their families who have been identified as having a developmental delay and/or disorder, was designed to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities. Designing an early intervention program that is able to identify and meet a child’s individual needs can be challenging for a service provider, especially when providing services to linguistically diverse families. According to the research literature, service providers can do several things to ensure they are providing appropriate services to a linguistically-diverse group.
Upon meeting a new client and their parents entering an Early Intervention Clinic, the service provider can ask themselves or the parent, “How does this parent’s background influence his or her perspectives about language learning and education for his/her child? What does this parent want for their child? What concerns does this parent have regarding their child, or the program?” By understanding that a unique culture is inherent in each family with which a service provider works with, they will be able to understand and respect how a family identifies itself.
According to the research, providing parents and families with information regarding how children learn language and the benefits of bilingualism as well as the preservation of home language and culture, benefit the child’s language development. Parents and families also benefit from learning ways to enhance their child’s language and literacy at home, as well as how to navigate the educational system.
Families have strengths that can serve as the building blocks for effective service, and service providers should foster those strengths in the family and their community.
Sarah Peters, M.A., CCC-SLP
From the President: Working Early-Intervention Magic in Community Settings, Patty Prelock
Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Early Intervention: Position Statement, ASHA