Professionals & Providers in Early Intervention

There are a variety of therapists and health professionals who might be involved with a child during the early intervention years. Each professional has a specific area of expertise and can offer insight into that area of the child's development.

What are the various roles of early intervention professionals and therapists?

Early intervention professionals might work directly with a child on a specific goal (direct services). Or they may spend time teaching adults involved with the child how to work on a goal (consultative services). The professionals will be involved in the assessment of the child to determine if the child is eligible for services. They will also help to develop the child's Individualized Family Service Program (IFSP)

What are the types of professionals & therapists that might be involved with a child?

  • Physical Therapists, many times referred to as PT, are involved in the large muscle movements such as crawling, walking, and throwing a ball and the fine motor movements such as grabbing toys, buttoning clothing, and using a crayon.
  • Occupational Therapists, referred to as OT, are involved in the "occupation" of childhood – daily living skills and play. "Occupational Therapy for Young Children" (PDF) describes the various aspects of this therapy.
  • Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) are involved with the acquisition of speech and language, feeding issues, and oral-motor control.
  • Audiologists are concerned with a child's ability to hear and process the auditory world.
  • Psychologists are involved in assessing a child's development through a variety of psychological tests and assisting families in understanding their child's development.
  • Social Workers help the family to understand the emotional and social aspects of their child and may provide counseling and support to help families cope with a variety of stressors.
  • Registered Dietitians work with a family on the nutritional needs of the child.
  • Nurses provide information and support surrounding health and wellness issues.
  • Family Therapists provide services to help families understand and accept the disability and encourage them to fully develop their child's potential.
  • Child Development Specialists provide expertise in the area of child development, helping families to understand the sequential nature of development and how best to promote their child's development.
  • Paraprofessionals assist in classroom settings to provide support to the child with a disability and help him/her achieve the goals set through the IFSP.
  • Mobility Specialists work with a child with a visual disability to maximize orientation and mobility skills and with a child with a physical disability to maximize mobility possibly through assistive devices.
  • Vision Specialists deal with all areas of a child's vision.
  • Service Coordinators assist the family through the early intervention process making sure that they understand their rights and the types of services available to their child.

How do families find early intervention therapists?

There are numerous providers of therapies and early intervention services in the state of Illinois. Two directories of services are:

  • Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids provides a listing of various professionals and consultants available in the State of Illinois.
  • Providers Connections provides a searchable database by county or by type of professional certified to provide early intervention services in Illinois.

Heartland-area early intervention providers include:

Contact Us

Johnna Darragh-Ernst

Professor Early Childhood Education

1500 W Raab Road
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-268-8746

Email: johnna.darragh@heartland.edu