We are pleased to be attending and presenting our recent research at the 14th International DCD Conference, hosted by University of British Columbia’s Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy from July 6-9, 2022. Our Director of Education, Dr. Jenn Fane, will share with attendees the aim, details, and successes of our interdisciplinary early intervention program, Early RISErs, for children aged 3-5. 

We would like to thank our Speech Language Pathologist, Penelope Bacsfalvi; Assistive Technology Manager, Mike Gray; Marlo Humiksi, instructor; and the University of Waterloo’s Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory for their support in integrating our socially assistive robots into our Early RISErs programming. We sincerely appreciate and value their continuous contributions to this program. 

Some excerpts from our research poster presentation are provided below.

 

MAIN FINDING 

Interdisciplinary early intervention programming offers comprehensive supports and targeted referrals for young children and their families which help them to navigate the complexity of childhood health and education systems. 

Introduction  

Young children with developmental disabilities, such as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Developmental Language Disorders (DLD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD), face significant barriers to participation in early years opportunities due to their unique challenges and needs. These barriers make it difficult for parents of young children to access the programming and professionals their children need to support their development.  

Aims  

To bridge this gap, we have piloted an early years parent-participation preschool-aged program that brings together Early Years Researchers, Speech Language Pathologists (SLP), Occupational Therapists (OT), Behavioural Interventionists (BI), Early Childhood Educators (ECE) and Kindergarten Teachers to create an inclusive program where children work with a range of professionals each week.  

The program focuses on key areas important for young children’s development including speech and language, social skill development, and gross and fine motor skill development, early literacy and numeracy, and self-regulation.  

Discussion  

The program pilot has served dozens of young children and their families since autumn 2021 with a wide range of developmental disabilities, offering parents opportunities to connect, consult with, and be supported by early years professionals working with their children in an inclusive group setting. Through their participation in the program, parents gain a deeper understanding of their child’s strengths and stretches, and strategies that support their participation and integration into group educational settings.  

Relevance to “DCD in the Real World”  

Feedback from parents and other service providers suggests that integrating DCD focused screening and support into an interdisciplinary early intervention program is addressing a significant area of need for parents with young children with developmental disabilities who face barriers to participating in programs and services that meet their needs. 

Program Details 

LDS Early RISErs brings together Speech-Language Pathologists, Kindergarten teachers, Early Childhood Educators, Behavioural Interventionists, and Occupational Therapists to offer families a unique technology-embracing program that provides assessments, skill learning, parent networking and strategies to overcome children’s challenges by leveraging strengths. Early RISErs is an early childhood education and intervention program with parent/guardian participation that focuses on equipping families with knowledge about their young child and their learning and development to date. 

The program, designed and facilitated by early childhood experts, focuses on key areas of learning and development including early literacy, early numeracy, speech language acquisition, social and emotional learning, and physical literacy to give families a detailed snapshot of their child’s learning and development to date, and engage young children in hands-on learning opportunities carefully scaffolded to individual child’s needs. 

 

You can find the link to our full poster presentation here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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