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Worried about changing from the sector you’re currently employed in (and may have been in for quite some time) to something a bit different? Well, you’re not alone.

Last year I moved from private practice (after three years as a new graduate) into the early childhood intervention sector and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad nervous. Working in disability is such a specialised area and you need a real heart for this area to work sensitively. There wasn’t anything to worry about though. I’ve really found the early childhood intervention experience to be positive in every way. I wish to encourage other speech pathologists (or other professionals) to consider entering this field who may be a little apprehensive at first, as I initially was.

Before I start, I would like to acknowledge that every person, profession and work place is different. Your experience might be different and I would like to encourage you to share it in the comments box at the bottom of this post.  This is the reflection of my experience in an organisation which is currently a not-for-profit as opposed to a fee for service provider, in an area where the NDIS roll will happen in July this year.

My experience in transitioning to working in early childhood intervention has been positive, rewarding, meaningful, interesting, challenging and fun. Good food-for-thought is elicited on a regular basis. The care for the children, families and employees is genuine and the input from each profession is truly valued. Communication is holistic and just one piece of the puzzle to so many other things going on that need to be taken into consideration. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with a ‘speechie’ colleague about us not ‘working in silos.’ I feel that working in this type of setting has helped break down barriers and made me see beyond my own disciple as to scope of practice.

Previously if parents raised concerns about issues like difficulties sleeping, toileting, feeding, fine or gross motor skill development, my thinking would have been ‘Not my area, or simply to just refer on to someone else. That thought process has changed buy premarin online slightly; I still consult relevant professionals, but working collaboratively now means considering the possibilities of how we all together can do something to make an impact.

As our early childhood intervention  service is based on a key worker model (very similar to trans-disciplinary model of practice vs. multidisciplinary), there is a great training component. Whilst there has been fewer one-on-one ‘therapy’ sessions in a clinic based environment and mostly home/ preschool/ community visits, I’ve learnt so much in being able to train and be trained by others. I really have grown so much professionally and up-skilling has been a vital part of this process whether informally through discussion, information/ resource sharing, observation or joint sessions with colleagues (early childhood educators, special education trained teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, behaviour support specialists- psychology background) or more formally through specific speech pathology supervision or on-line and in person training. I’ve had the chance to acquire and develop so many great resources as this is made a priority).

A particular personal challenge that is taking time to overcome is the wording used when writing reports:  changing from a deficit to a strengths-based model and trying to balance the evidence of what is realistically the situation while looking for opportunities to complement and support existing strengths and capacities and making it productive and functional for parents. As some children may have complex needs, any minor improvements are part of important progress. Standard scores on formalised communication assessments unfortunately do not reflect these changes very well.

It has been a refreshing change getting to see functional, real life gains from changes made in naturalistic settings in activities of daily life.

I would highly recommend considering the possibility of employment with an early childhood intervention service!



Esther Jolliffe works within the Bathurst Early Childhood Intervention Service (BECIS) team in the role of Speech Pathologist/ Key Worker and is a certified practicing member of Speech Pathology Australia. She graduated from Charles Sturt University, Albury with a Bachelor of Health Science (Speech Pathology) in 2012. Esther worked in a multidisciplinary paediatric private practice in Orange for 3 years, servicing surrounding rural communities before commencing employment with BECIS in 2016.


Catalina Voroneanu
Catalina Voroneanu
Inclusion Program Coordinator

1 Comment

  1. Ellen Dubber says:

    Thanks Esther, I enjoyed reading about your “refreshing change”. Welcome to the world of ECI! You’ve highlighted such an important part of the key worker model – training, development and support for those who work using a KW approach. As you’ve discovered, it can be very rewarding to be part of a team (that includes family) who address real life challenges. It’s not just the child who is learning! Parents, family members, community and workers all learn and grow from this approach. Sounds like you’ve found a great workplace and have possibly encouraged others to do the same! The NDIS ahead of you has its challenges but you have a good team around and that’s a great start.

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