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Preparing Therapists as Effective Practitioners in Early Intervention

Campbell, Philippa H. PhD; Chiarello, Lisa PhD; Wilcox, M. Jeanne PhD; Milbourne, Suzanne PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.IYC.0000343334.26904.92

Occupational and physical therapists and speech language pathologists provide services for almost half of the children enrolled in early intervention programs nationally. Each professional association has adopted documents defining practice in early intervention that advocate for family-centered practices and interventions embedded in family activities and routines. However, educational programs preparing each of these disciplines offer little information in preprofessional programs about early intervention, and therapists working in early intervention self-report low levels of competence. Many practicing therapists are required to complete continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses or certification, but less than a third of state Part C programs have adopted early intervention credentials or have annual professional development requirements. This combination of limited preprofessional preparation with minimal postgraduate professional development results in an early intervention therapy workforce with less than adequate preparation and necessitates a new look at therapists' preparation by their professional associations, educational programs, and State Part C agencies.

Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University (Drs Campbell and Milbourne) and Programs in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University (Dr Chiarello), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, Tempe (Dr Wilcox).

Corresponding Author: Philippa H. Campbell, PhD, 5th Floor, Edison, 130 S. 9th St. Philadelphia, PA 19107 (

©2009Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.