; Adam Bello, County Executive

Early Intervention Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will my child be labeled?

Early Intervention does not “label” children.  If your child is given a diagnosis, that information is important to those special needs providers assisting you.  If your child continues to need services after Early Intervention, the State Education Department requires that the label of “preschooler with a disability” be given to all children entering the Preschool Special Education Program. This label is to satisfy the regulatory requirements and therefore allows payment to occur for services.  Your child’s file may only be transferred to the kindergarten program your child enrolls in with your consent.  Make sure inform the school district Committee on Preschool Education office if you do not want the information shared with any school-age program.

Q. Is a parent required to be present AND participate in each therapy session? If yes, how much participation time is required?

The parent, guardian, appointed surrogate or responsible caregiver should participate fully while the special needs provider is working with a child.  There are times when the provider determines what strategies would best work with your child, and then works with you to give you ideas as to how to best enhance the child’s success in his/her setting. Remember that special needs providers may only be able to spend an hour or less per week assisting you.  If strategies are implemented throughout the week within the daily routine, the child’s developmental progress will improve.  Sometimes the provider is there for an hour or more, sometimes less.  Ask your provider about the scheduled time.

Q. Why do you need my insurance information?

The Early Intervention Program (EI) uses the child’s health insurance policy to help pay for the services.  New York State law protects family insurance policies from being affected by payments to EI.  Your insurance policy can only be used if your insurance company is licensed or regulated by NYS.  If your policy is not subject to NYS regulation, its use is voluntary on your part.  You must give the Initial Service Coordinator written permission to allow access to your policy.

Q. If my child is eligible how soon can services start?

Services should start within 30 days of the IFSP meeting.  Sometimes services can start immediately after the meeting, but some services require a script from a doctor.  Services should not start until the provider has the script, or in the case of a Speech Pathologist, a recommendation from either a doctor or a speech pathologist.  There are times when service availability is tight, and the Service Coordinator may find that a provider has availability for only certain days or times.  Parent flexibility is appreciated during those times.

Q. What does a special instruction teacher do?

Special instruction teachers are trained to look at the whole child. She/he looks at what is behind the delays that are manifested in motor and language areas. While the tasks they work on with a child appear to be the same as an OT, SLP, or PT, teachers are looking beyond the specific skill to see how the child interacts with their environment and with other people. Teachers tend to look more at how the whole brain is working and provide activities that hook up all the skill sets together so that the child is able to develop independent responses as they engage with the world around them.

Teachers look at how the child plays. Is the child able to play independently with success? Does the child retain learning? Is the child able to take what they learn and use it in a variety of settings?   They look at how the child adjusts to changes. Can the child access specific skills needed when they are presented with changes?  They also look at how a child approaches new tasks where they have to use their current understanding and skill sets such as language skills, motor skills, and social skills.

We learn though our senses so a teacher looks at the senses to see which sense the child is able to learn through most effectively. Which sense provides the child with the strongest memory?  If a child is having difficulty teachers are trained to look at a task and break it down to see where that difficulty is occurring.  They are trained to identify motor delays, language delays, social delays, adaptive delays. Teachers identify a delay, identify the best learning modality (sense) for that child and then develop activities using that modality to increase the delayed skill set.

An experienced teacher knows what cognitive/problem solving skills precede a motor skill or a language skill. They know what motor skill supports specific language development. They know what motor and language skills are needed to develop specific social skills and specific self care skills. They also know how to sequence all these skills into an effective program that promotes optimal growth in their students.


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