My pursuit toward a career in Early Intervention (EI) is significantly influenced by my core perceptions of what effective learning is; specifically, for learners with special needs, who is the population I intend to teach. I firmly support the mission and foundation of Early Intervention practices because of how they acknowledge and take advantage of when in human development the brain is most malleable to changes through defined instruction. I have experience working with children in EI capacities, as well as working with elderly individuals in a retirement community. This juxtaposition has definitively shown me how much more successful instructional, specialized therapies are when applied at the earliest stages of life. Also, I have inhabited the roles of a student, advisee, and Teaching Assistant – my experience in all three positions has led me to recognize how much harder it is to successfully replace, mold, or restructure prior knowledge or perceptions in older populations than in younger.
EI services’ targeted population are children from 0-3 years of age with developmental, intellectual, or learning disabilities. As an Early Intervention provider, my lessons, which I would personalize for each and every child, could address maladaptive habits, scaffold necessary skills for learning growth, and focus on the developmental weaknesses that accompany certain diagnoses, to overwhelmingly improve that child’s quality of life in a long-term manner. Most importantly – and most in sync with what I define as the roots of effective, healthy, instruction – Early Intervention promotes the identification of strengths in their learners: both to provide optimism to parents’ who may have developed potentially negative outlooks based on stigma generated by society, worry for their child’s future, and profound loss of their “idealized” child; as well as to emphasize these acknowledged strengths and exercise them. In my experience working with an Occupational Therapist in EI, I saw immense progress in skill adaptation over only several weeks’ time. Overall, my teaching philosophy is to identify and use learners’ strengths to develop effective, individualized approaches to instruction targeting their weaknesses.