What Is a Developmental Therapist?

mom and dad (holding baby)

In early intervention, you may have several therapists or specialists working with your child and family. One of those team members may be a developmental therapist. This team member is uniquely qualified to consider the whole child and the impact of a child’s development on the family.

A developmental therapist holds a degree in early childhood education or a related field and has also completed educational experiences or training in the following areas: typical and atypical child development, collaboration with families, intervention strategies, and assessment. The developmental therapist will view your child’s overall development and enable families to help their children in areas of strengths and concerns. This might be done by

  • helping to provide accommodations within different environments,
  • recommending ways to use common household items to help achieve outcomes, and
  • being a sounding board for a family’s concerns.

A developmental therapist works closely with families and additional members of a child’s team, including the service coordinator, to ensure that the services provided are appropriate to a family’s needs and desires.

The developmental therapist participates in the assessment process, assists in the development of the individualized family service plan (IFSP), and communicates services and strategies to all team members.

The developmental therapist also works with families to support the parent/child relationship, to help families find new ways to support their child’s development, and to help the family understand their rights and responsibilities as the child transitions out of early intervention. In addition, the developmental therapist can support the family in learning to observe and interpret their child’s behavior and help to identify resources that might be helpful to families.

The developmental therapist works with a child and family in the home or another place that the child visits often (e.g., child care center). At each visit, the developmental therapist will review the child’s progress with the family or provider, discuss any new concerns or updates, and then model play interactions with the child. Upon completion of the visit, the developmental therapist reviews the day’s activities and plans for the next session.

A developmental therapist is an important member of the EI team. By looking at a child’s overall development, the developmental therapist can enable a family to support their child in all areas of development.

Publication date: 2018
Originally published in the EIC Newsletter: Volume 31, Issue 3