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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 4, Lesson 1

Activity #1

The IFSP is the foundation for the curriculum for each infant/toddler with special needs. The team approach to assessment and planning for each infant/toddler with special needs provides an opportunity for all persons responsible for the child's development to have input (see the Teaming Module for details). "The IFSP is the vehicle through which effective early intervention is implemented in accordance with Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It contains information about the services necessary to facilitate a child's development and enhance the family's capacity to facilitate the child's development" (Bruder, 2000). All parts of the IFSP are critical to the individual child's curriculum.

Read the article on The Individual Family Service Plan by Mary Beth Bruder. This can be accessed through the Resource Bank.

Review Florida's Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) which is in the Resource Bank. Pay particular attention to each section of the plan. As you do this, consider Florida's IFSP as a foundational springboard to the curriculum or a guide for supporting the learning and development of each infant/toddler with special needs as suggested by Bruder. Answer the questions under each of the sections and corresponding rationale for the IFSP.

  • Identify the Family's Activity Settings - This is important to make sure families can provide the support and so that settings will be comfortable, but also motivating places for learning.
  • Question: Under what forms in Florida's IFSP is "activity settings" mentioned?
  • Conduct a Functional Assessment - This section gives you the information you will need to plan specifically to meet each infant/toddler's needs. If you want to know if the curriculum strategies work, the evaluation is important. And evaluation is important to guide the next optimal challenges for each infant/toddler.
  • Question: Look at Form D in the Florida IFSP. What information is requested? Developmental Domains?
  • Collaboratively Develop Expected Outcomes - Working with other professionals and parents assures that the child's needs and interests will be met in all areas of development and that the family, the child's first teacher is an integral part of the decision-making. Note: Family and other caregivers who play with infants and toddlers can participate in some ways with little training. For example, many adults seem to know that babies like the peek-a-boo game. But to approach specific targeted needs of a child or know when a certain game will be most effective, curriculum training is necessary through collaboration, coaching, and modeling by experienced professionals.
  • Question: What information requested in Form B of the Florida IFSP would help the team collaboratively plan and carry out the family's desired functional outcomes for their child?
  • Assign Intervention Responsibilities - Each has a specialty in professional skills, but also in ways to manage - some make better coaches than others (see the Coaching Activities below).
  • Question: Look at Form F in the Florida IFSP. This form provides information about eligibility for Early Steps and a summary of services and supports that the child and family will receive. What information requested would delineate the coaching responsibilities?
  • Identify Strategies to Implement the Plan - Ideally, interventions should:
    • be embedded in everyday routines, activities and places
    • emphasize the acquisition of functional competencies.
    • make it possible to increase a child's participation within the environments.
    • include both social and non-social activities

Functional outcomes are focused on everyday naturally occurring practical behaviors and accomplishments that are used relatively frequently in the child's typical environment. For example, learning the name of your brother and sister is much more functional than learning ABCs. Learning to wind up a toy Jack-in-the-Box is more functional than picking up beads and putting them into a cup to encourage fine motor development.

Question: What are 3 functional outcomes that could be included in a naturalistic curriculum for toddlers?


Activity #2

Confused about what a natural environment is for infants, toddlers, and their families who are eligible for services under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?

Go to Natural Environments

Read the following three sections:

  • The Law says...
  • What We've Learned...
  • Natural Environments are for Everyone...

Consider two everyday routines and places that you didn't read about, but know are great places to stimulate language, extend a motor skill, or scaffold a problem solving skill? Why are those environments natural? Why are these motivating environments?


Activity #3

Do you have questions about the role of interventionists in working with families and other caregivers? Do you see this as different in family-guided routines when you work as a coach?

Read Intervention Principles for Family-guided Routines

As an Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS), you will be providing many services to children through your role as a coach with families and other caregivers in order to address the child's functional outcomes. This is considered a "touch and teach" - demonstration model. Practitioners should remember that every conversation in early intervention is an opportunity for coaching.

The following are some skills and strengths for being a great coach:

  • Use flexible teaching strategies
  • Understand how adults (family members) learn to provide appropriate and sensitive suggestions
  • Provide both spontaneous support and coaching as well as planned coaching to families
  • Realize how to match the family dynamics with the right coach. It may be you, or another member on the IFSP team, who needs to take the role of coach for certain families (Hanft, Rush, Shelden, 2004).

Reflect on what you consider as your strengths? What skills might you need? What else do you need to know to be effective?

Print the form for Self Evaluation of Family-guided Routines/Based Interventions. Think about your last session with a family or other caregiver. Score yourself based on the 30 items in this self evaluation. Decide how you think you rate on:

  1. Family guided features
  2. Responsive teaching and learning interactions between careprovider and child
  3. Routines based intervention
  4. Family-guided routines based intervention


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