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EI on the Fly Podcast: Ready to Learn about Functional Assessment in Your Car?

You’ve got 30 minutes until your next visit. Sure, you could pull over in a parking lot and scroll through your email or social media, or maybe return that text that will take you about 10 seconds to type…OR you could listen to the new podcast, EI on the Fly: A Podcast about All Things Early Intervention!

I’m pretty excited about this new project. Podcasting has been a fun new world for me, both to learn about and listen to. Last year, Emily Webb, with the Massachusetts Early Intervention Training Center, emailed me to ask if I’d be interested in collaborating on a podcast. We both work in EI professional development, both have been EI practitioners, and, as it turns out, have both experienced EI from the parent perspective. It sounded like a new adventure so, of course, I said yes!

Our First Series: Functional Assessment

Over the past year, Emily and I have recorded the Functional Assessment series, which will include eight episodes. Episodes will be released monthly on Podbean, but are also available on iTunes and Google Podcasts. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s coming:

Episode 1 – What is Functional Assessment and Why Does It Matter? (Run time: 32:37)
Episode 2 – Intentional Observation (Run time 30:44)
Episode 3 – Asking Meaningful Questions
Episode 4 – Active Listening
Episode 5 – Implicit Bias
Episode 6 – Functional Assessment and the Initial IFSP
Episode 7 – Ongoing Functional Assessment
Episode 8 – What Functional Assessment Means to Supervisors, Practitioners, and Families

We’ve released the first two episodes so far. Episode 1 provides an introduction to functional assessment (FA). We define FA and introduce important concepts such as conducting observation, asking meaningful questions, using active listening, and learning about how children interact and learn during daily activities. We talk about what ongoing FA should look like, compare it to traditional assessment, consider examples, and think about how to integrate it into your work with families.

In Episode 2, we dive into the first component of functional assessment: observation. We define observation in the context of early intervention and consider how it helps us “watch to listen and learn.” We discuss observation during the initial evaluation/assessment and service delivery, emphasizing how observation helps us gather functional information about children, how they interact with family members, and what interests and motivations them – all without inferring meaning or judgement. We’ll also review tips for helping families understand the importance of observation.

The Car’s Great but How Else Can You Use the Podcast?

Here are a few more ideas:

For individual practitioners: Rather than blocking another time slot to get something else done, pair the podcast with another activity. Catch an episode while driving to work, preparing breakfast or dinner, or maybe even while taking a walk or cleaning your house (fun!). It’s easily accessible through apps on your phone, and can be downloaded to listen to later.

For System Managers and Directors of EI programs: Plan for a group discussion during your next staff meeting. Email out the episode link before the meeting with an open-ended discussion question as food for thought. Blast the link out by email to the service coordinators and service providers in your system. It’s another free resource that we hope programs will find easy to use!

I’ll be writing posts about the individual episodes in the coming months to give you additional ideas on how to dig into the topics yourself or with your staff. We hope you’ll subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes.

Teaser: Emily tells some great stories about her experiences as a mom receiving EI that really put FA in context – you won’t want to miss them!


PS: A huge and special thanks to Jeanne (VA) and Laura (MA) who are the technical specialists behind-the-scenes helping us with producing and posting the episodes!

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