REiMAGiNE
Support Systems

WHERE TO FiND HELP?

If you are concerned about any part of your child’s development, at any age, it is important to get help early and quickly. The earlier you seek help, the better the potential outcomes can be for your child. You know your child better than anyone else, so it is important to trust your instinct. Early childhood intervention practitioners can work with you to:
  • Build your confidence in playing and interacting in ways that support your child’s learning and development.
  • Make the most of your child’s young age when they are learning and developing skills at a faster rate than later in life.
  • Maintain and develop your child’s abilities and skills to prevent disability from increasing.
  • Utilise the early stages of recovery from an illness or accident.
  • Help your child to be ready for kindergarten, school and to make friends.
  • Support your child to participate in home and community activities.
We often hear from parents that it can sometimes be difficult to know where to to get help when you might need it. We encourage you to talk with your local doctor, child health nurse, Paediatrician or an NDIS Early Childhood Partner to find out what type of supports might benefit your child and how to access them.

DOES MY CHiLD NEED A DiAGNOSiS?

As the early childhood years are a critical time for development, it is important to access support as early as possible for children who have a disability and/or developmental delay. Sometimes securing a diagnosis for your child can take a significant period of time. It is important to ensure that a child and their family has access to life-changing early childhood intervention support during this period of time.

So, in order to ensure that opportunities for children to achieve the best outcomes are maximised, families of children aged 0-6 currently do not require a diagnosis in order to access supports under the NDIS.

This does not mean that a diagnosis is not important. According to the Better Health Channel, early intervention works best when it is designed specifically to meet your child’s needs. For this to happen, you need to understand what your child needs. Having a formal diagnosis, if possible, is the best way to achieve this.

WHAT iS THE NDiS ECEi APPROACH?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have developed a national approach, called the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach, to support all children with disability and developmental delay (0 -6) across Australia, under the NDIS.

To manage the approach, the NDIA have funded organisations known as Early Childhood Partners to deliver the Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach across Australia.

As every child is different, your Early Childhood Partner works to tailor a support package to suit your child’s individual needs and circumstances.

HOW CAN AN EARLY CHiLDHOOD PARTNER HELP?

The NDIS Early Childhood Partner can assist you in the following ways
  1. They can undertake an assessment of your child’s needs to identify what supports and assistance might be needed
  2. They can Identify and connect you with community supports that might be helpful such as playgroups
  3. They can provide you with short term early childhood intervention strategies and supports without the need to enter the NDIS
  4. They can assist you to gain access to the NDIS, should your child need longer term early childhood intervention support services
  5. They will develop an NDIS plan with you – (an NDIS plan is an individualised plan that has goals that you have identified that you would like to achieve for your child & funding attached to purchase supports and services to assist in reaching these goals)
  6. Early Childhood Partners will provide you with information about how your plan can be used and assist you to know how to get started with NDIS supports and services.
  7. Early Childhood Partners also undertake review of your child’s plan. They will work with you to develop a new plan if needed.

WHO DELiVERS EARLY CHiLDHOOD iNTERVENTiON?

Early childhood intervention practitioners are professionals who work with children and families. They can provide support, assessment, advice and strategies to promote your child’s development and learning. There are many practitioners who work with children with disability or developmental delay and their families. A few of the most common practitioners that you might work with to support your child’s development are;
Key Worker
Some early childhood intervention services use a “Key Worker” approach when working with families. This is when one key therapist becomes the primary point of contact for the family and works with them very closely to develop a strong, positive, ongoing relationship. You can ask about having a key worker and how best it will work for you. The role of the key worker is to work directly with your family to plan and deliver services that promote learning opportunities within your everyday routines or activities. The key worker calls in other team members when required so that your family has access to the other practitioners in your early intervention ‘team’, as needed. For example, if a family has a physiotherapist as the key worker and the family requires support with a specialised area such as drinking safely at mealtimes, then a speech pathologist will be brought in to assist with this. In addition to providing early childhood intervention, the key worker can help families with access to other services and supports, such as planning to start school.
Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists, or OT’s, work with you to help your child participate in and build independence in everyday activities such as; dressing, mealtimes, learning and play. This may involve; helping your child to use their hands to reach, hold and manipulate objects during everyday activities; providing specialised equipment (e.g. hand splints, wheelchairs, mealtime equipment, bathing equipment) to assist in access, participation and safety; providing advice about toys, activities and games suitable for your child; and recommending adaptations to their environment in home, school or day care. Occupational therapists can also support a child who may have social, emotional, sensory or behavioural challenges that impact on their comfort, sense of security and interactions with those around them.
Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists work with you and help your child to actively participate in movement skills such as sitting to play and moving between positions (such as from lying to sitting and walking around their environment). Physiotherapists support parents and carers with strategies for positioning, carrying and encouraging overall motor development. They also focus on fitness and the skills required for recreation and chosen sports. For some children, specialised equipment may be considered to support their development, position or mobility. Some examples include; orthotics (shoe inserts), walking frames, wheelchairs, support when lying down and recreational equipment such as bike modifications.
Speech Pathologist
Speech Pathologists, or SP’s, work with you to help your child learn skills to communicate and to process information. Information and support is provided to families on how to build effective communication environments, and to help children with information processing and interaction skills. Speech Pathologists help children develop their social skills and can provide support if there are difficulties in eating and drinking. Sometimes alternative methods of communicating such as using signs, a communication board or specialised device (for example a PODD communication book) will be recommended to assist the child to communicate (or similar).
Psychologist
Psychologists are experts in the ways people think, behave and learn. They can work with families to help them understand your child might learn best, and to understand why your child might behave in a certain way. They can also provide support and strategies to help in your child in different environments.
Social Worker
Social workers provide counselling and support for families. They can provide information about what services and supports are available and can help family choose the most appropriate services. Social Workers can also provide information for parents who wish to meet other families with similar experiences. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE (ECEC) EDUCATOR/TEACHER An ECEC Educator or Teacher provides education and care for children as part of an education and care service such as a preschool, long day care, family day care or out of school hours care service. Educators have knowledge of children’s learning in the context of a social early childhood education and care setting.
General Practitioner/Paediatrician
It is also important to have a doctor/General Practitioner (GP) and /or a Paediatrician (doctor who specialises in the health of babies, children and adolescents), who can develop a positive and ongoing relationship with you. Your GP will be able to help co-ordinate your child’s healthcare, advise and refer you to specialists, and be able to refer you for therapy funding. Your GP can also refer you to a Paediatrician who specialises in children’s health and development.
Other Helpful People
  • Audiologists who specialise in hearing and listening skills for your child
  • Auditory Verbal Therapists who specialise in teaching hearing impaired children to speak clearly
  • Dieticians who specialise in nutrition and diet
  • Podiatrists who specialise in feet, foot posture and shoe fitting
  • Orthoptists and Developmental or Behavioural Optometrists who specialise in vision
Children often benefit from a combination of therapies – this is called a multidisciplinary approach. And children often need different therapies or therapy combinations at different stages of their development. Remember, not every child needs to have assistance from all of these practitioners. Your team may be small, or large depending on the needs of your child and your family.