In February 2016, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) released its national approach to early childhood early intervention. Services in early childhood will be delivered through a family-centred approach. But what is family-centred practice and what does it mean for orientation and mobility (O&M) service delivery?
Family-centred practice is based on four principles:
- Family members are the primary decision makers when it comes to setting goals for their children.
- Support is provided within the context of a family’s daily routines.
- Skills are developed in natural learning environments
- The family and the service provider work in partnership.
Families are supported by an access partner who help them identify specialised early supports funded by the NDIA. For children who are blind or have low vision, O&M should be one of these supports.
If a young child is receiving O&M intervention, this means the O&M Specialist must recognise:
- The foundation of all O&M skills are built during infancy and early childhood.
- O&M concepts and skills are developed in the child’s home environment and community.
- Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.
The goal is providing children with beginning O&M skills so they can be confident as they explore, and to empower parents to support the development of these skills. The goal is active movement, which will help children become independent travellers as they grow.