Early intervention providers, including developmental therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, use bagless intervention to help improve a parent’s competence and confidence in supporting their children’s development in natural environments. Typically, early intervention service providers have brought bags of toys with them into the family home to address a child’s skills and goals. However, this approach may not always be appropriate. Instead, when service providers use toys or everyday items already available in a family’s home, parents may participate more in early intervention and engage in similar activities with the child even when the service provider is not present.

Bagless intervention encourages providers to focus on routines, activities, and materials that are familiar to the child when addressing IFSP outcomes. This allows the caregiver to observe and participate in an activity that happens naturally within the child’s context. For example, a provider might focus on fine motor skills during a mealtime interaction. A toddler can peel a clementine or pick grapes off the vine. The provider can also observe the utensils that the family uses and determine what modifications are necessary, if any. A narrow handle on a spoon can be adapted by securing a sponge hair roller or a small stress ball around the handle.

Bagless intervention is flexible, individualized, and adaptable. The parent-child interaction continues long after the provider has left the home because the toys/supplies used during the visit are still with the child!

Written in collaboration with the family development early intervention team of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN). For more information, visit http://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/2018/09/12/a-bagless-approach-in-early-intervention-what-is-that/

Originally written for the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse Newsletter:  Fall 2018

What Is Bagless Early Intervention?