Many of you have been providing early intervention services via virtual visits for nine months now. That’s a long time….I probably don’t need to tell you that because you are living it. It’s been a long time since you sat in a family’s living room, since you held a baby, since you blew bubbles with a toddler, since you guided a parent’s hands as she helped her baby learn to stand, or since you got one of those amazing toddler hugs. Many of you have become grounded in tele-intervention and, while you undoubtedly miss in-person visits, you have embraced this incredibly unique opportunity to grow as professionals.
What Are You Thankful For?
Take a deep breath, look out of a window, and pause. Think about the past nine months and ask yourself: “What has this experience of providing tele-intervention given me? What am I thankful for?” Somedays, you might answer that this experience has given you a headache from staring at the computer screen all day long. Other days, you might find yourself joyfully celebrating progress you got to see by “joining” a family during an activity you might never have been able to observe before.
While I am not seeing families via tele-intervention, here are a few things I’m thankful for when I reflect on our field’s experience this year:
#1: I’m thankful for the new door we’ve opened.
Being launched into tele-intervention as the only way of reaching families has likely changed our field forever and in a positive way. Many states are advocating for the flexibility to continue to offer tele-intervention as an option to families. Being able to offer tele-intervention to families who prefer it for privacy, flexibility, distance, or other personal family reasons… having the option available to support families of some of our most medically-fragile children…offering virtual visits in areas with provider shortages – all of these could really be game changers. I’m grateful for the door that’s opened so we might be able to continue to leverage technology to further individualize EI services and reach more families.
#2: I’m thankful for the coaching practices that were already in place to help us *really* support caregivers.
I’ve heard over and over that practitioners who were already using coaching practices found the shift to tele-intervention more natural – still challenging and still with a healthy learning curve, but overall, a more natural fit. I’m grateful that we have been practicing coaching and routines-based, family-centered intervention here in VA for years now. Sure, what this looks runs the gamut, but the adoption of this practice made it easier for practitioners to support caregiver and child learning from the other side of a webcam. No one said it was easy to make the shift to virtual visits, but having some great practices in your back pocket seems to have helped.
#3: I’m thankful for you.
Yes, that might sound cliche but hear me out. I’m thankful for EI practitioners and leaders like you who embraced virtual visits when you had no other choice. You put new policies in place, built new systems of support and payment, adopted new technology, and walked families through how to login with kindness and patience. I’m thankful that you pushed through the awkward transition of figuring out where to place the camera and how to manage audio, how to observe and manage silence during visits, and how to teach a parent without being able to model like you’re used to. I’m grateful for the EI teams who experimented and figured out how to use technology to conduct eligibility determinations and assessments, who shared their screens so families could understand their rights and see the IFSP as they joined team members to write it. For all of you who continue to dedicate your time, energy, and bandwidth to children and families receiving early intervention, I see you and I am proud to be part of a field with you in it.
Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
For more information about tele-intervention, visit these resources: