3 Mistakes I See EI Providers Make (and what to do instead)

Hi SLP friends!

Today I want to talk about 3 mistakes that I see EI providers make. Now I’ve done early intervention either part time or full time since the beginning of my career as an SLP and it’s an area I absolutely LOVE. I’ve also supervised EI providers which has been one of my favorite parts of my job as I teach and watch young SLPs grow. BUT with being in this area for a long time and doing a lot of talking with other SLPs, observing SLPs, and problem solving with SLPs, there’s a few things that come up pretty often so I want to take the time during this episode to dive into those in case this is something you need a little help with too. 

Want to listen to the audio version of this blog post? Check out this episode on the All Things SLP podcast.


1. Mistake number one-automatically beginning with words. 

  • This is something I see happen ALL THE TIME. You get a new client and they don’t have any words yet so automatically you may think, okay let’s get them talking. And you’re using all of your strategies and prompts to start to try and elicit words. BUT. What about those prelinguistic skills that come BEFORE words. Oftentimes, I see those skipped over but that’s where we should start. Do they have joint attention, are they turn taking, do they use gestures, are they imitating movements, and more. (Sidenote: this is something that really needs to be explained to parents as well. I have a really good handout that shows what I call the 10 building blocks to verbal language. It’s a good reference for you and for parents.) We need to be aware that there are allll these skills that come before a child starts talking and if we haven’t met those, that’s where we need to start. Not with words. And I promise, starting at the appropriate prelinguistic skill and building development from there is going to result in a lot more progress than if you ignored those missing skills and just worked on words. So just be aware of those when working with these young children and always observe to make sure these skills are being met.  
2. Mistake number two-not involving caregivers and not explaining what you’re doing to caregivers 
    • I say this, especially for those in maybe a clinic or outpatient setting who see EI kids. Bring those parents back with you for your session, don’t just leave them in the waiting room! Remember, we are only with their child for 30 minutes or an hour once, maybe twice a week. The magic is going to happen in the home when we aren’t there. So if we don’t bring in the parents and involve them in our sessions, coach them with the strategies we’re using. That can’t happen. So it’s absolutely critical that we get this involvement and participation and the easiest way for that to happen is to have them in the session with us and us explaining what we’re doing as we’re doing it, explaining why we are doing what we are doing, and then coaching them through it. 
    3. Mistake number 3-not looking at the whole child. 
      • Meaning, what’s going on in the rest of the body. All systems play into each other and affect each other so while we only address the speech, language, and swallowing aspect of these young children, there are so many other factors that will play into the development of the speech and language. So these are things I’m constantly observing, constantly discussing with the caregivers, just that overall development. This is why we ask during an evaluation about their gross motor development, their cognitive development, their medical history, all of that. It gives such good information. Other things I look at is their sensory system, constantly anything related to ENT so maybe how they are sleeping, ear infections, illnesses, all of that. I weave all of this into conversations with the parent and a lot of times things will come up. Like I hear they are a picky eater or they snore at night, well these are things we need to look a little closer at. So again, don’t just focus on our areas, look at the whole child. 


      So those are 3 things I want you to be cognizant of as you see early intervention children. Again, those 3 things are: 1) don’t automatically begin with words, look at those prelinguistic skills and figure out where you need to start. 2.) involve caregivers in every aspect and explain exactly what you’re doing and why. And 3) look at the whole child, not just the speech and language parts. 

      hope you found this as a helpful reminder or were able to grab some new tips out of it. 

      Talk soon,

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