by Dr. Meghan Burke

How can you build a strong partnership with your early intervention (EI) provider that supports you, your child, and your family? Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself.

  • Do I feel that my service provider knows my family and what is important to me? Can I communicate these things with my provider? Can we agree on what outcomes are important for my child and family?
  • Do I feel like my provider is joining my world, or am I joining the provider’s world? Janice Fialka describes the relationship between provider and parent as a “dance.” Is our relationship like a dance in which we try to move well together, even if it’s not always easy? For instance, is the distance between my service provider and me comfortable? Do I want the provider closer (knowing more, involved more) or farther away? Can I communicate these concerns?
  • Can I lead the dance sometimes? That is, can I show my EI provider ways that make sure our sessions match our everyday activities (e.g., meeting at the park, including siblings, working on skills through play)? Can I let the provider take the lead when I’m not sure what strategies or information I need?
  • Do I feel more skilled and capable or more dependent because of our partnership? Am I a partner in this dance, or am I watching the service provider and my child dance more than I would like? Can I talk about this concern with my service provider? Or, if I am not quite ready to dance, am I comfortable saying so—and asking for help?

A child’s parents are the most important people in their life. You are your child’s first teacher and the constant in your child’s journey through childhood. It’s important that you become an active partner with your service provider and join forces to build satisfying relationships for the benefit of your child, yourself, and your family.

For more information, see Janice Fialka’s The Dance of Partnership.

The post was adapted from an article that first appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of the Early Intervention Clearinghouse newsletter.

Working with EI Service Providers
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