Because therapy and education services for infants and toddlers are offered in a variety of settings, there are pros and cons to consider. Find arrangements that are right for you and your family.
Therapy Services and Medical Offices
Taking your baby to an office for therapy can be convenient if you can combine it with other family activities or if it's near your job. If you take your baby to an office location for therapy, you will meet other families with similar needs. It can be reassuring that you are not the only family facing difficult decisions and schedules. Many lasting friendships (between parents and between children) come about from conversations started in waiting rooms.
Sometimes therapy is performed at day care, and at times, may be a necessity. This is not ideal because you cannot see the therapist's example. If you use this kind of arrangement, plan how you will communicate with the therapist. Notes? E-mails? Phone calls? Set up some of the therapy sessions when you will be at home with your baby.
Early intervention services are often brought to the home. In-home services offer familiarity, comfort, and a different kind of convenience. You do not have to bundle up your baby to take her to an office two or three times a week. You do not have to spend your gas money or get a babysitter for your other children.
Since it is home, your baby will feel more at ease. Therapists can often include your baby's own toys in the activities, which you can repeat later.
However, there are some drawbacks to in-home services. Someone, who is initially a stranger, will be coming to your home. Although most families and therapists develop a strong, positive bond, at first the situation can be awkward. There are distractions at home also. The phone continues to ring, neighbors come by, and your other children are competing for your attention. Set up guidelines for family and friends for those times a therapist will be working with your baby.
Some schools, particularly those that work with children who are deaf or blind, offer family-oriented classes in which parents participate with their children. These programs focus on teaching families how to communicate with their baby, and how to modify day-to-day activities at home to accommodate their child's special needs.
In some schools there is actually a model “home” in which families practice the communication techniques taught in the program. The guidance and feedback from this realistic setting helps all family members when they return home.