Evidence-Based Practice for Speech Therapy in Early Intervention

Evidence-based practice for providing therapy to Infants and Toddlers VERSUS traditional speech therapy

The information below is part of a longer document (available HERE; citation below) that was developed by leading icons in the field of early intervention and based on the best available research on how young children learn and how families improve.

Principle: Infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts.

Four Key Concepts

  1. Learning activities and opportunities must be functional, based on child and family interest and enjoyment
  2. Learning is relationship-based
  3. Learning should provide opportunities to practice and build upon previously mastered skills
  4. Learning occurs through participation in a variety of enjoyable activities

This principle DOES look like this

This principle DOES NOT look like this

Using toys and materials found in the home or community setting Using toys, materials and other equipment the professional brings to the visit
Helping the family understand how their toys and materials can be used or adapted Implying that the professional’s toys, materials or equipment are the “magic” necessary for child progress
Identifying activities the child and family like to do which build on their strengths and interests Designing activities for a child that focus on skill deficits or are not functional or enjoyable
Observing the child in multiple natural settings, using family input on child’s behavior in various routines, using formal and informal developmental measures to understand the child’s strengths and developmental functioning Using only standardized measurements to understand the child’s strengths, needs and developmental levels
Helping caregivers engage the child in enjoyable learning opportunities that allow for frequent practice and mastery of emerging skills in natural settings Teaching specific skills in a specific order in a specific way through “massed trials and repetition” in a contrived setting
Focusing intervention on caregivers’ ability to promote the child’s participation in naturally occurring, developmentally appropriate activities with peers and family members Conducting sessions or activities that isolate the child from his/her peers, family members or naturally occurring activities

Workgroup on Principles and Practices in Natural Environments, OSEP TA Community of Practice: Part C Settings. (2008, March). Seven key principles: Looks like / doesn’t look like. Retrieved from http://www.ectacenter.org/~pdfs/topics/families/Principles_LooksLike_DoesntLookLike3_11_08.pdf

My colleague wrote a nice blog related to this topic HERE

For professionals who are interested in decreasing their toy-bag dependence, my former professor has a helpful handout HERE