Getting Started in Early Intervention: Assessment

I have recently been able to get started an early intervention system, providing OT to families in their homes and communities. It definitely required a lot of paperwork to get started, but there was also a need for mental preparation and acquiring tools. Though my school system job involved using IFSPs, I was providing services in a preschool and had (ample!) materials provided. Here are some resources that I used in preparing to perform OT assessments and treatment in an early intervention setting.

I reviewed a number of assessments when I was trying to decide what to buy. Some were seriously outdated or limited the areas assessed. I wasn't able to consider others because they were made to be a true team assessment, which is true of the TBPA. While I can't speak to the practicality of using the assessment as a team arena approach, I do want to discuss the intervention book. So often, the intervention books that come with assessments are rather worthless. This is a book that I want to add into my own collection. The intervention book has many strategies to increase skills in all domains and adaptations for performance factor limitations. I think it would be helpful to anyone in early intervention because it gives you information from a multidisciplinary point of view, so it had info that I had not previously been exposed to.

After looking at multiple assessments (which had to be on an approved list), I decided to purchase the ELAP. The fact that I needed to be able to assess all domains of development, not just motor or adaptive, was a heavy factor in this decision. Also, I needed to keep costs low and the manuals and scoresheets for the test were very reasonably priced and the kit can be assembled in a non standard manner. This is a criterion referenced test which allows you to figure out an approximate age. I have friends who use the EIDP, which is even lower in cost, but I was a little worried that I wouldn't see enough during the test to get a good assessment. I also decided later to purchase an infant-toddler sensory profile (the SPM-P is not approved in my state, so it is the only sensory measure).

This picture shows some of the materials I was able to get for my testing kit. Many of the items came from yard sales or discount stores. I have always loved the pipsqueaks markers, so they were a must-have item for me. I liked the tactile puzzles we had at school so I felt fortunate to find one for sale. I found a surprising number of high quality wooden beads and blocks for cheap, which I was super happy about. The orb over on the right has spinning lights and I got it for a quarter... it is going to be a favorite toy. I need more things that make noise for kiddos with visual impairments, but the squeaky toy I got (in the pet section) is super responsive and loud, so it will do for now. Not pictured, but worth a mention is the formboard puzzle I got from Manzanita Kids on etsy. They were very responsive to my custom order, made it with high contrast materials as requested, and it is a very high quality piece.

Other Resources:
What to Expect from an EI eval- from the dual perspective of therapist and parent
Abby's blog has been featuring parent interviews which includes tips they'd like therapists to know


Barbara said...

Excellent information!

(We have preserved that same animal puzzle - an early toy of our now 22-yr-old. Cue theme song from The Way We Were.)

Linder's work is very good.

Maybe one day we can talk on the phone or in person, eh?

Abby said...

Thanks for sharing the assessments you use. I haven't been very impressed by the assessments my agency in California uses, so it's good to hear what other therapists are using. If I wasn't moving out of state, I would check to see if any of those are on California's approved list.

Cheryl said...

it was very difficult to make an educated decision on what to buy because it had to be on the approved list and had to test all areas. I was lucky enough to find scoresheets for several tests (Battelle, AEPS, HELP, Mullen Scales) so that I could at least "preview" what they assessed and try to find the right fit for what I needed. it's sad that there really isn't a great EI assessment but there are a lot of very expensive ones!