Mara Podvey, Ph.D., OTR, associate professor and director of clinical education in the Department of Occupational Therapy
at the School of Health and Medical Sciences, recently published an article titled "Reconsidering Insider Status for Families During the Transition from Early Intervention to Preschool Special Education" in the Journal of Special Education
, a leading peer-reviewed journal in the field of special education.
"When I first became an occupational therapist, I worked with preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. I thought that families would be educated about the differences between early intervention and preschool by their early intervention providers and their district, but the families reported they were never told anything about it," Podvey says.
"Their stories made me wonder what was happening during the transition process. No one ever asked me to participate with helping families during the transition process, but I chose to become a resource for families," she continues. "I wondered what other occupational therapists were doing to help families transition between services, but when I looked into the literature, I found next to nothing."
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 outlines educational services available for children from birth through 21 years of age. Occupational therapists are integrally involved with children with disabilities and their families throughout their education. Two parts of that act cover early childhood education: Part C, which covers early intervention services for children under 3, and Part B services, which cover preschool and school-based services for children aged 3 and older. The shift from Part C to Part B services represents a shift in underlying philosophy for children with disabilities and their families. As such, the transition between services is one which causes stress for families.
Scholars are beginning to look at this transition, but there is only limited research that addresses the transitions when related services, such as occupational therapy, are a part of a child's plan or program. The current qualitative study examined families' experiences during the transition from Part C to Part B when the child receives related services in both early intervention and preschool special education.
The Journal of Special Education
article highlights a metatheme, titled "The Outsiders," which was found during the study. Families described that they felt removed from their child's education once they entered preschool, after being integrally involved in the early intervention program. Based on these reported experiences, and a thorough examination of the literature in this area, strategies for professionals involved in early childhood transitions were provided.
If you are interested in learning more about research in early childhood transitions, or would like to collaborate on future research projects in this area, please contact Dr. Podvey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973) 275-2843.
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