Families' Role in Early Intervention
Family members are a baby's greatest resource. They know the baby best and spend the most time with the baby. The baby gets food, shelter, love, and communication from family members. It is this last part, communication, that sets deaf and hard of hearing babies apart from other babies.
Some people believe that children learn to read and write in kindergarten or first grade. That isn't true. Literacy skills begin developing at birth, when parents share stories, sing songs, or talk to each other and to the baby. Before the baby can read or write, the baby must develop language skills and ideas about the world.
The family has a very important responsibility to make sure that the baby learns words and ideas about the world early on. If the baby has a hearing loss, the family may need support to help the baby learn language. How that support is given must fit the baby's and the family's needs. So, the family is a vital part of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) development process.
How do you help your baby during the IFSP process?
- Be the parent. You know your child better than anyone else. Your gut feelings and personal observations are important. Be the parent, and also learn from other IFSP team members' experience and knowledge.
- You don't need to learn all the technical terms. The IFSP team can explain those to you. You can use your own words when you describe what is happening with your baby.
- If you don't agree with other team members, say something. Ask to talk about it some more. If you accept something that you don't agree with, that will not be helpful when you and the rest of the team discuss what services your family needs.
- Make sure the IFSP meets your baby and your family's needs.