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Learning about the Families of Children with Visual Impairment and Multiple Disabilities: 10 Questions to Ask

From Essential Elements in Early Intervention: Visual Impairment and Multiple Disabilities, Second Edition edited by Deborah Chen and available in the AFB Bookstore

Recommended practices in early childhood special education support a family-centered approach to early intervention. Family centeredness refers to principles and practices that are individualized, flexible, respectful of, and responsive to each family. Family-centered practices involve sharing information so that families can make informed decisions about interventions and services, using the family's priorities to guide the focuses and goals of intervention, promoting collaboration between families and professionals, and helping families obtain resources that facilitate positive results for both the child and family.

Here are some suggestions for developing a positive working relationship with family members of infants and children:

  • Remember that positive, respectful, and helpful interactions are necessary to develop and maintain a collaborative relationship with the families of the children you serve.
  • Explain your role in providing services and what the family can expect.
  • Let the family know that their involvement in the child's early intervention services is essential.

Begin learning about the family by using a conversational approach that allows the family to share their experiences and hopes for their child. Open-ended questions such as the following can guide this process of gathering information:

1. Tell me about your child and family.

2. What do you enjoy doing together?

3. What makes these times enjoyable for you and your child?

4. What is difficult for your child?

5. What makes these situations or activities challenging?

6. What would you like your child to learn in the next 6 months?

7. Whom can you rely on for help with your child?

8. What questions do you have about your child's diagnosis, early intervention program, or other topics?

9. What are the best ways for me to contact you (for example, telephone, e-mail, text)?

10. Is there anything else I should know in order to work effectively with you, your family, and your child?

Because early interventionists are typically present with children and families less than 2 hours a week, early intervention services need to focus on assisting caregivers and families who are the primary influences on children's development.

For more information about providing early intervention services to children with visual impairments and multiple disabilities, read Essential Elements in Early Intervention, Second Edition, available in print, e-book, ASCII and online subscription in the AFB Bookstore at

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