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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 5


Strategies are activities used to accomplish outcomes and should be developed based on family routines and daily activities. Strategies should be what families are already doing. They should fit in with their life and family activities. For instance, if an outcome was to "help Susie walk better so she could play outside with her friends", a strategy might be that the child would accompany the mother or father on an errand to a store and help push the cart to help increase her stability. This activity could also use strategies to address outcomes of improving communication, small motor ability, large motor ability, etc. by having the parents engage the child in conversation about what they see at the store, reaching for items, etc.

Questions to ask families and others to help determine strategies (Adapted from Pam Winton):

  1. What are some ways of getting to where you want to go?
  2. Who needs to be involved in getting done what you want to do?
  3. What would each of you need in order to accomplish what you want?

Next, you will explore a valuable web resource to aid in your understanding (through pictures) of strategies that work for children and families in the framework of natural environments. This research based resource is the Puckett Institute with physical locations across the United States. The Puckett Institute has served as a national leader in conducting research studies on functional outcomes and strategies in natural environments. Go to The Puckett Institute and complete the following steps:

  1. Click on "The Power of the Ordinary" on the right navigation menu.
  2. This screen will give you options to explore.
  3. Click on slide show - then click to view either the small or large version. Both are very brief. The difference is primarily in the download time. Remember that you have used "Real Player" for videos in earlier modules and that will work here as well. The short video you are about to see will reinforce what you learned earlier about natural environments in planning functional outcomes and strategies. This will take less than one minute to view.
  4. Next, click on "Everyday Times" to see a listing of visual Newsletters.
  5. View the following for some fun and interesting ideas:
    • Dig In!
    • To Market, To Market...for Super Learning Fun
    • Social Butterfly Babies
    • Someone's in the Kitchen
    • Splish Splash

Gathering Information to Develop Functional Outcomes

Several methods can be used effectively to gather information that can be used when developing functional outcomes. These include interviews of families and caregivers, observing the child and family in daily routines, and family surveys and rating scales.

Information Sharing

When a good relationship has been established with the family, they will feel comfortable sharing information. The exchange of information should be very informal, and when questions are asked during these conversations, they should always be open ended. The professionals should be aware of the family's comfort level. It is important to have a conversation with the family - not an unnecessarily intrusive interview. Don't ask questions about areas of the family's life for which you have no need of information. Rather, ask yourself, "What do I need to know in order to help this family?" As the relationship grows, so will the level of trust and more in-depth conversations can take place. The purpose of this information gathering is to gain more insight and be able to assist the family in identifying concerns, priorities and resources.


The use of observations during evaluation and assessment has been discussed in detail in Lesson 2 of Module 3. Please review that section again before proceeding. Observations can be used to look at the relationship between the family and the child and can provide very helpful information about their routines to use when developing functional outcomes for the child and family. A formal tool may be used to do this or observations can be done informally. Whatever method is used, it is crucial that the observer not make judgments about the family based on what they have seen. Practitioners must be very aware of the family's perspective and the possibility for their own prejudices.

Surveys and Rating Scales

Surveys and rating scales are additional methods of gathering information from families (Trivette & Dunst, 2003; Murphy, Lee, Turberville, Turnbull & Summers, 1991). If these are used, it is important to be aware of the readability level of the tool and the primary language of the person completing it. Also, make sure they are asking questions that are relevant to the kind of information you are gathering. "Formal interviewing, observation, and surveys should be used cautiously and only if that is the family preference.... The important concept to remember is that family information gathering efforts serve to focus attention on concerns and issues identified by family members, and to communicate to family members that they are important and that their perceptions of their child are important" (Banks, Santos, & Roof, 2003, p. 17.) If we look upon families as partners in this process, it is important to use methods of information gathering that meet the families' comfort levels and are viewed as the least intrusive.


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