Top 5 Things I Learned as a New Early Intervention Therapist ~ by Haley, Shine DT

Shine Developmental Therapist (DT) Haley wrote this list 2 months after joining us. Early Intervention in Illinois is a State run program, and as such can be cumbersome and confusing to navigate at first. However, there are so many positives to the family-based team approach! Let’s read about Haley’s Top 5 as a new therapist in this program:

Top 5 Things I Learned about Early Intervention (EI) as a New EI Therapist

  1. The team that surrounds each family in early intervention, truly cares about not only the child they treat, but the family as well. It is so important to EI providers to make sure that the entire family feels supported. Whether that is a listening ear or doing respite care, the whole family matters to the EI team.
  2. During my training period I was able to shadow many providers from many different disciplines. It was great to see how each provider whether they are an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or dietician, is  working towards the same goal. This goal is to help your child be successful and each of the dedicated members of the EI team takes that goal to heart.
  3. There are so many resources in our local community. So many programs that are available to children 0-3 years old, even if they are not in early intervention. This includes great programs like Communication Junction, sign language classes and Zumbini, a developmental music group. These programs can provide opportunities to connect with other families, and most importantly opportunities to connect with your children. Whether it is learning signs to help your child communicate, or just being silly together these are great opportunities to make memories that will last a lifetime.
  4. Parents are the best ally we have! Parents are the best teachers, advocates, and supporters of their children and their progress. Parents are key players in early intervention and this program could not operate without you. So keep up the good work!
  5. Probably the most important thing I have learned is that while your therapists work hard each week to make improvements with their clients, it is so important that parents integrate the tools we give them into their childrens’ daily lives. Think how much more we can achieve if these strategies are used on a daily basis. We need the parents’ help since we cannot be there on a daily basis. As I said before, parents are the best teachers their children have, please remember to keep teaching after therapy ends. You have the power to make an impact, we are just simply here to give you the tools and support you!


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An 8-week program for children age 3-5 with sensory processing differences

Children with sensory processing differences have difficulty with regulation, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to interact with the world around them. Our Sensory Explorers group targets regulation in order to build engagement! This group is led by pediatric occupational therapist Mackenzie Baldock and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, both of whom specialize in using developmentally appropriate strategies to support children so they can learn new skills. Group meets once/week for 60 minutes.

Wondering if this class is appropriate for your child? Some characteristics of kids who benefit: easily frustrated with play, repetitive play, difficulty sitting/keeping still to engage in play, refuses to allow others to engage in play, unable to be messy, overly busy, quickly overwhelmed in a busy environment, picky eater, difficulty tolerating grooming/dressing/diapering routines, struggles with transitions/following a group plan/routine. 

Goals of the group include:

  • Child participating in a variety of sensory play activities
  • Engaging socially with others in the group
  • Providing a non threatening environment where children can experience new sensations with the support of a pediatric Occupational Therapist and PLAY Project consultant
  • Providing personalized resources to caregivers, so they better understand the sensory system and learn strategies to assist their child with regulation outside of group
  • Opportunity to meet with other local families

Group begins with a 30 minute Open House on Tuesday October 4 for your child & caregiver/family to attend. This provides an opportunity to meet the therapists, acclimate your child to the space and provide some initial information about your child’s responses to a variety of sensory activities. 30 minute sessions will be offered from 12:30-4:30 on 10/4 with sign up sent with registration.


GROUP MEETS for 6 weeks October 11-November 15: Tuesdays 2:00-3:00 OR Tuesdays 3:30-4:30. ***We ask that families who are able remain flexible on the time slot so we can effectively pair your child with others that they will gain the maximum benefit from for social interactions!** Caregivers are encouraged to stay to support their child and learn helpful strategies, however other options will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Caregiver education is a key component of this program. Make-up date in case of class cancellation: 11/22/22


Group ends with a 15-30 minute Zoom wrap up session with caregiver(s) on November 29th. Every participant will receive a short, personalized Session Summary report complete with suggestions/recommendations for helpful sensory supports in the child’s home/classroom/community.