"My family has been welcomed into the WDC family and given the best non-judgmental support that anyone could ask for."
Wonderland Developmental Center
Families & Caregivers
The "Natural Environments" Approach
Wonderland's services are offered where your children live, learn and play, so that our supports are meaningful to your family. This means our staff might be working with your child and coaching you at your home, neighborhood park, or childcare.
As the caregiver, you know your child best! Our team of professionals will work with you to build on your child’s current skills, as well as the strengths of your family. Your child’s interests and activities will form the framework of our intervention.
After your child is determined eligible for services, a member of your intervention team will work closely with you to promote your child’s development. This professional will act as a “primary coach” to help your family meet the developmental goals which you and the team have outlined for your child. She or he will not only work with your child, but will also teach you how you can continue encouraging your child's growth and development.
Early Intervention in Natural Learning Environments - Program Evidence
Evidenced based practices for supporting infants and toddlers with developmental challenges include supporting families in the child’s “natural environment”. This term is used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, Part C (IDEA, 2004) to describe settings that are typical for infants and toddlers without disabilities or delays. Contrary to more traditional “center based” intervention, therapy takes place in the family’s home, community, day care or place of work. In order for intervention to have lasting results, it should occur in natural settings, through activities that are meaningful to them. Since the child’s primary caregivers play such an integral part in the intervention process, our practitioners strive to build caregiver confidence and competence by helping them identify learning opportunities for their children.
Wonderland staff focuses on each child and family as a unique team, and works with them to develop relevant goals related to the family’s concerns and priorities. We help families develop a foundation for healthy relationships, active engagement in learning activities, and participation in daily routines. Our practitioners include Occupational Therapists, Special Educators, Speech Language Pathologists, and Social Workers who provide direct support to the caregivers and children, and address a range of developmental areas, such as cognitive, communication, social-emotional, physical, or self help skills. Together, we develop a comprehensive plan to meet their specific needs. Our families are eligible to receive support until their child turns 3, at which time we may assist them with the transition to a community or school based setting.
What does intervention look like?
When we work with families, we promote their daily activities and routines as “learning opportunities”. Sessions are individualized for the family’s needs and priorities. We meet them at their homes, in their communities, or while the child is in the care of other family or child care providers. We approach intervention with the goal of supporting the child’s development in naturally occurring routines, as well as promoting the confidence and competence of the families.
During our intervention, we draw from evidenced based approaches that have proven successful for young children with disabilities. Some of the strategies we may incorporate into our coaching sessions include:
- Scaffolding (practitioner models the desired behavior, and gradually shifts the responsibility to the learner) learning for parents and kids
- Helping children and caregivers move slightly beyond their zone of comfort in learning new skills
- Supporting families in how to identify opportunities within their routines, and how to incorporate specific strategies into these routines.
- Breaking tasks into manageable chunks within a meaningful context
- Encouraging caregivers to use natural reinforcements embedded within activity
- Finding and using what is naturally motivating for each individual child as a basis for interacting and communicating
- Using pictures, symbols, schedules and other visual cues individualized to the child and family
- Helping families move beyond their routine in preparation for transition to the next setting and to further their child’s development in some cases.
- Exploring individualized sensory and regulation needs, and incorporating modifications into the child’s daily routine.
Want to know more?
Early intervention has the potential to change a child’s developmental trajectory, build the confidence and competence of caregivers, and increase opportunities for children with special challenges to participate in and benefit society.
The following links offer you an excellent overview of early intervention in natural environments:
To get started with Wonderland, please contact our office at 206-364-3777.
Before venturing out for any meetings or playgroups, please check the school district website or www.schoolreport.org for school closure information.
- In the event of a district-wide closure, all appointments, home visits, and activities for that day are canceled.
- In the event of a late start or morning-only closure, all appointments, home visits, and activities scheduled before noon are canceled, but all afternoon and evening activities will proceed as scheduled.
If you do not have web access or electricity, the closure information will be on the Wonderland Developmental Center’s voice messaging system at 206-364-3777.