Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts are required to provide services outside of the regular school year to qualifying individuals. In order to qualify for ESY, a child must already have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place, and demonstrate either a regression in skills, or show evidence of emerging pivotal skills that will enable a behavioral cusp, or a breakthrough in skill development.
The families of children who do not qualify for ESY or families who decide not to have their child participate in ESY will often choose to increase home-based Early Intervention (EI) services over the summer.
This decision is driven by several reasons that are crucial to your child’s development in the following ways:
In-home Early Intervention Services using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) takes a team of highly trained clinicians to develop an individualized program that best meets each child’s needs.
Early intervention services are provided in your home
Your home is where you and your child are most familiar. Most of your child’s preferred toys are in the home, and many of your child’s preferred activities can be done at home. Furthermore, as a parent, you have control of the environment in your home. You know who and what is in your house, and you are able to observe the programming in your home at any time. As Annie Stuart from Understood.org stated, “working with a child in his natural environment removes one step in the learning process. It means he won’t need to figure out how to transfer what he’s practiced in a clinical setting to the place where he plays and lives.”
Adds structure outside of school
With in-home services, you have a team of dedicated Registered Behavior Technicians and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) working directly with your child for up to 40 hours per week. The technician, in conjunction with a BCBA, will provide supports to give your child a predictable schedule. Moreover, staff will work with you as a parent to implement behavior management and skill acquisition strategies in their absence.
Focus on building skills instead of maintaining skills
ESY Services are meant to help maintain skills that a child has acquired during the normal school year so that the child’s skills do not regress. In-Home Early Intervention Services, by contrast, work to continuously build skills, ultimately taking a proactive approach.
It is important to remember that in-home services should only be “extended” into the summer or holidays. Effective services must be consistent and continuously build in a step-wise manner on fundamental pre-requisite skills over time.
By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D, President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC