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Occupational Therapy Contributions in Early Intervention: Implications for Personnel Preparation and Interprofessional Practice

Muhlenhaupt, Mary OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA; Pizur-Barnekow, Kris PhD, OTR/L; Schefkind, Sandra MS, OTR/L; Chandler, Barbara PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA; Harvison, Neil PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000031
Original Research/Study

Occupational therapy provides a unique contribution in early intervention programs for families and their children from birth to 3 years old who are at risk for, or who have, identified disabilities. This article describes occupational therapy's distinct value and presents the profession's perspective on services to enhance families' caregiving capacity and increase their young children's participation in home and community settings where all children typically grow, learn, and develop. Preservice education preparation that equips graduates to contribute as members of the collaborative team in infant and toddler programs addresses discipline-specific competencies, together with competencies that are shared among early intervention professionals. Interprofessional practice competencies that can inform thinking about these distinct and overlapping competencies among early intervention professions are discussed. Implications for entry-level education and continuing professional and interprofessional development are highlighted to suggest recommendations for competent occupational therapy practitioners who provide services in Part C early intervention programs. Additional research is needed to examine family and child outcomes associated with various team practices and service delivery models.

Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr Muhlenhaupt); Department of Occupational Science & Technology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (Dr Pizur-Barnekow); American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland (Ms Schefkind and Dr Harvison); and Therapeutic Services and Design, Winchester, Virginia (Dr Chandler).

Correspondence: Mary Muhlenhaupt, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, 901 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (

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No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.

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