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The Role of the Interpreter in Early Intervention

An interpreter’s primary role is to facilitate communications between speakers who use different languages.

Interpreters working with Global Arena take on a variety of assignments including:

  • legal proceedings
  • school meetings
  • and medical appointments.

One of the specific types of medical appointments; with which interpreters are frequently found, is called Early Intervention.

What is early intervention?

Early intervention, is a state-run program which provides support and services to families with young children (aged 0-3 years), who have developmental delays or disabilities.

Developmental delays are classified in the following ways:

  • physical
  • cognitive,
  • communication
  • social/emotional
  • and adaptive.

Early intervention services are provided by a team of social workers and an interpreter; when necessary. These services are integrated into the daily life of the family; in such a way that they cause as little disruption as possible to the child.

Early intervention services are funded by the state and federal governments; therefore they are free for families residing in Pennsylvania. The Early intervention program was created in 1986 when Congress reauthorized the Education of All Handicapped Children Act.

The intention of this legislation is to reduce the impact of delays in development; and also disabilities in young children and their families and also maximize their potential for independent living in the future.

What services are provided in early intervention?

The first step is an assessment of the milestones of the child’s development. The team works to assess the child’s development compared to the normal development of peers. For example, a parent might wonder if their child should be crawling or if it’s a problem that the child is not crawling yet. If the evaluation reveals the need to continue with early intervention services; we proceed to evaluate their direct caregivers (usually parents).

Concerns, priorities and resources are evaluated through interviews and an evaluation tool.

The next step is writing a family service plan; the team works with the family to make decisions about how to proceed.

Some examples of decisions made in the planning stage include:

  1. Who participates in the treatment of the child?
  2. Where and when will the services take place?
  3. What are the major goals or outcomes expected of the treatment?

Why is it so important to have an interpreter?

An interpreter is necessary to facilitate face-to-face meetings, interviews and evaluations between the parents and the social worker when a parent has limited English proficiency (LEP).

Support services must take place in the child’s natural environment. Normally the service takes place in the family home; the child’s school and a in the nursery.

For families who speak English as a second language, having an interpreter present allows them to use their first language as they naturally would without interference from the support team. Also, this preserves the family’s values and diversity. The informed consent of the parents is also necessary to continue with the service plan. Furthermore, one of the main objectives of early intervention is to provide education to the parent. The presences of a qualified interpreter enables LEP parents to receive the best possible education on their child’s developmental delay or disability.

Global Arena also has a network of qualified interpreters. A network of interpreters accustomed in addition to unfolding in a multitude of different situations.

There are numerous scenarios in which it is therefore appropriate to hire the services of a qualified interpreter. Whether the nature of the assignment falls within the healthcare, legal, or educational industries; reach out to Global Arena to request an interpreter.

Note: this article focuses on early intervention services in Pennsylvania. For more information about services available in your state, please refer to the following link:
https://www.autismspeaks.org/early-access-care/ei-state-info


Sources:
http://www.education.pa.gov/Early%20Learning/Early%20Intervention/Pages/default.aspx#tab-1
http://www.parentcenterhub.org/ei-overview/

2 Comments

  1. Albert Infante on September 14, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    First, thank you so much for this information you provide on your website, it is very valuable for me and staff working with interpreter particularly in early intervention, early childhood screening and evaluations were children -parents-therapist-interpreters are involved. I am Spanish trained interpreter I do use techniques and follow standards of practice when providing my services. However, I have some questions on this type of setting and I hope I get some answers.

    Should interaction between children and therapist be interrupt by interpreter trying to render the message to children’s parent?
    When children and therapist (evaluator) interact, should I (as an interpreter) interpret what is being said to the parent, so she/he knows what their kids is being asked?
    When children and therapist interact should I interpret for the children the questions being asked by the therapist.
    Should therapist evaluate language barriers on the children before getting early childhood screening, meaning which language does the kids is more proficient on and what language should I use when giving him instructions for the test. So, the therapist have an idea if the interpreting services are needed during the evaluation where interpreter has to render the oral input/message to the kid or to the therapist?
    If interpreter in needed during the evaluation process, interaction between therapist and children, will that affect the results of the test if children get nervous, shy, no willing to participate because of the presence of the interpreter.
    Should I wait for the therapist to give me instructions to when interpret important questions for children?
    What if the children feel uncomfortable and no being participant during the evaluation or acting shy because of the presence of the interpreter and interpretation in different languages, how should interpreter participate/act to avoid or these issues?
    When asking background questions, family questions, health history to the children’s parents, should the children being evaluated be present at the moment of the questionnaire, even though questions my make parties feel uncomfortable.
    During the evaluation procedure or therapist children interaction, should interpreter be outside of the room and wait until further instruction from the therapist. Should interpreter only be needed during parent and therapist interaction, evaluation’s results, screening overview, parents’ questions and answers with the therapist so in that way we release/eliminate pressure, anxiety on the children being evaluated.
    I do thank you so much for taking your time reading these questions and giving me some tips.

  2. Carles Pont on December 10, 2018 at 8:54 am

    This above comment was so interesting that we decided to create a new article addressing the questions posted. You will find the answers here: https://globalarena.com/early-intervention-services-qa/

    The Global Arena Team

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