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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 3

Communication and Collaboration

Obstacles to Good Communication

Again, please review the "Obstacles to Good Communication" section of Lesson 2. The ten barriers to communication and establishing collaborative relationships with families listed are the same ones that affect our interactions with professionals in the community.

Are there additional ones you can think of?

Professional Relationships within Early Steps

Personal, Professional, and Agency Values and Beliefs

With the emphasis in the Early Steps system on collaboration and shared roles, it is very important that professionals in the system have a good understanding of their respective roles and varying perspectives. Three sets of values come into play when we look at perspectives.

First, there is our own personal set of values and beliefs that is derived from our upbringing and culture. This would include our beliefs about child rearing, our definition of "family", how we communicate, etc.

Second are those that make up what, in the case of early intervention professions, is seen as important. For example, family centeredness, acceptance of varied parenting styles, and the importance of natural environments.

Third are the agency's values - the distinct beliefs and perspectives of individual agencies. These may include how they cooperate with other agencies, how information is shared, how service coordination is managed, etc. The more these value sets overlap and intersect, the easier it is for a collaborative group to work together (Nelson, 2000).

mother and baby on the floorIf there isn't overlap, there must at least be an awareness and respect for varying values and beliefs among all of the participants. For example, an Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS) may go into a home where it appears to him/her that the family is not following through on his/her recommendations for intervention with the child when she isn't there. He/She may surmise that the family isn't interested or motivated. The family, on the other hand, sees little value in their daily life for using the specific recommendations, but they would not directly raise the issue with the EI professional. The value sets here aren't overlapping.

In another scenario, a seasoned ITDS feels he/she has had great success with families through the years by "taking care of them" and he/she feels he/she often knows what's best for families, even if the families may sometimes want something else. He/She doesn't understand the emphasis in Early Steps on families actually articulating what they want and working as equal partners with professionals. That doesn't feel right to the ITDS because he/she is convinced that families with young children with disabilities really don't know what they need and are mainly dealing with their "grief" over having a child with disabilities. In this case, the values of the ITDS are in conflict with the agency and professional values.

Can you see how important it is in this system for us to be aware of our own values and beliefs and also the perspectives of our respective professions and the agencies and organizations with whom we work?


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