Differences Between Speech Therapy and Early Intervention | Bright Start SC
Hi, everybody. We are so glad that you are joining us here today. We are going to be here talking a little
bit about our services with Bright Start. And my name is Kelli Floyd. I am a speech language pathologist
with Bright Start. I have been with the company almost 10 years now, actually. I joined our company
right before having my first child, and he is almost 10. So I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and
things have changed a lot. And we just want to come in here and share a little bit about that today. And
I’m going to let my sweet colleague introduce herself as well.
Hi, I’m Cat Robbins. I’m an EI trainer with Bright Start in the Charleston office, and I have been working
with Bright Start for three years. And I train people to be early interventionists. So I train them in both
service coordination and family training, and you know, just the coaching model and working together
as a team. And Kelli, would you mind just talking about what you do as a speech therapist? Because I
know Bright Start’s a little bit special, and we do things a little bit differently than other agencies.
Yeah, absolutely. I would love to. So as a speech therapist with Bright Start, our services do look a little
bit different. As I said a minute ago, they have evolved over the years and it looked a lot different when I
first started as a speech therapist going in the homes to serve our populations, our 0 to 3 population.
And when I first started, we would come in, we would bring all of our toys, and it was very much as if a
clinic were coming into your home. So some of you may have in the past gone to a clinic and had those
services, or maybe you’ve had inpatient or outpatient services through a hospital, or maybe you’ve even
had another speech therapist come to your home and do services.
And what I have found is our services at Bright Start look a good bit different at this point in our career
than they used to or than other services look coming into your home. And so what that means is we
come in and we just come in on our own. We don’t bring anything into your homes anymore. When we
come in for the evaluation, it’s very much to figure out what’s important to you, what goals are going to
be important to you, what the family really wants to work on, where they’re having a hard time. And so
we’re going to sit and talk about that as we complete our evaluations, and then we’re going to work
together to create goals for your child that you’re the expert in. You’re the one who is with your child
every day. And so we really work very hard to create a plan of care for you that reflects your needs and
So we would work together to do that, and then when we come in the home, we’re going to be working
directly with you. So we… Cat mentioned a moment ago that we do the coaching model, and so that
means that we do a lot of work with the caregivers of the children that we see. And so we are going to
be talking with the caregiver about how things are going, what’s different, what’s new, what’s been
hard. And then we’re going to work with the parent to really deliver services that meet them where they
are and meet them with the goals that they have and the things that are important to them.
We do work directly with the child, but we do it with the parent because ultimately we want to
empower that parent to be, and to continue to be because they already are, the expert on their child,
but oftentimes they don’t feel like it. They feel like we are coming in and we’re the expert and we have
all the knowledge. And I do have knowledge. I did go to school to be a speech language pathologist, but
you’re the expert on your child. And so I’m able to just marry my background and my expertise with your
expertise on your child to create something beautiful and achieve the goals that you have. So it does
look a little bit different than a lot of other providers that provide services in the home.
Cat, how would you say that it looks for you as an early interventionist? Because I know that our early
intervention services are very different as well.
Absolutely. We come in as well and we follow that coaching model just like you do. And I think a big
change is we start with something called the routines-based interview, or the RBI. And instead of having
our first meeting be another assessment… at this point families have already gone through so many…
it’s really just a conversation and talking through what that family is seeing, what they want to see, and
really getting a good picture of how we could develop some functional goals that make sense for the
family, because we want to work on what matters to them, what they want to work on. And so I think
just the fact that we start with the conversation and relationship building, I think that really sets us
And then as EIs, we come in four times a month and the family chooses what we’re going to work on for
their sessions. So we like to tackle things one goal at a time and just come up with some really good
strategies that are tailor-fit to that family and that child and talk through them. It’s a lot of bouncing
ideas back and forth and really just working together as a team to come up with something that the
family is excited to do and that will make a positive difference in working towards that goal. And I think
at the end of the day, that’s so much more successful than just you know, having a list of random
suggestions that I know in child development are helpful. I think it’s more important to really get a good
picture of what the family’s seeing, get to know that child and know that family, and then come up with
a strategy that really fits what they want.
And I know we work together as a team with a parent, but then you and I and then EIs and other speech
therapists and other therapists all work together as a team. Would you like to share just a little bit about
the importance of that relationship and what that looks like?
Yeah, of course. I have found that it’s very important to work with all the members of the team from the
very beginning. When I was a brand new speech therapist going in the homes, I found out very quickly
that if a child needed more services than speech therapy, which most of ours do… they at least have
early intervention services, but often they also have physical therapy and occupational therapy… I
realized that my sessions were not as good as they could be as when I began to co-treat, which we were
able to do before, with some of the other providers to understand what it was that they were doing and
how I may be able to use some of those things in my own sessions to help them reach goals that they were working on in other areas. And so I found out very quickly that if you work together as a team, if
you communicate with your team, that you are able to help that child and that family, ultimately, make
more progress, and their progress is often, I would say, quicker than it would be if we were all just
working individually and separately and not talking together.
So a great example might be that you’re working with a child who is not sitting up yet, for instance, and
maybe they’re working on sitting with their occupational therapist or the physical therapist, or even
with their early interventionists. And what they can do is they can share, “Okay, well, we’re working on
these things, and this is what I’m seeing in my sessions. And this is how we do that, and the parent is
able to facilitate that because they’ve been in those sessions. Would you mind letting them do that
during your session so that we can work on that while you work on some things that you guys are
And so it’s just been so… It’s been interesting to me because it’s helped me learn about the other
professionals that I work with and where they’re experts in their own fields of study and the areas that
they work with the family on.
But it’s also been very helpful for me with the family to help them work on some of the goals that
they’re working on in other sessions within my session. It’s kind of one of those things where you want
to work smarter, not harder. And so if you’re with a team, making sure those lines of communication are
opening, you’re letting them know what you’re working on and how the child is doing in your own
sessions and then asking them well, what, what are you seeing in your sessions? What are you guys
working on in your sessions? And that way also that whole responsibility doesn’t fall the parent because
oftentimes the parent has to be kind of like the quarterback for the team, because they are the one that
is in all of the sessions for the most part. But sometimes I, I mean, I don’t feel like that’s a fair thing to
put that all on a parent.
So I think it’s also our responsibility to communicate with other providers and make sure that we are all
on the same page and all seeing the same thing. Additionally, I also have found in the past that
sometimes I see things that they don’t see, but they’re the experts in. And because I’ve been so
consistent with working with the other providers, I will notice something I’ll be able to ask, for instance,
another provider, “Have you seen this in your sessions?” And they’ll say that they have or they haven’t.
If they have, they can tell me how they’ve been working on it and addressing it, because we often all
overlap with our services and the things that are important and how this child is developing, because
development isn’t just linear. It all overlaps. But sometimes they haven’t seen that, and so they’re able
to… then the next time you’re watching for that, and then they can come back and say, “Hey, yes, I did
see that, and this is the course of action that we’re going to take.” And so we can also just be eyes and
ears for other providers when we know what’s important for that particular family.
What do you think, Cat? Do you feel like that’s a really important part of your role as the early
interventionist, to really facilitate that team?
Absolutely. I feel like that kind of you know, everyone being on the same page and being consistent and
even just having the ability to pick up the phone and call somebody else who knows the family, who
knows the child, who’s working on the same goals, and just talk through, “Okay, this is what I’ve been
seeing, what are you seeing?” And it just… You can kind of brainstorm together, and two heads are
better than one. And you can kind of tackle that situation and in a way that is more effective. And I think
anytime I talk to other providers, I always come away with that conversation having learned something
new, and I like that continual growth and that continual knowledge that’s just shared both ways. And I
think that better serves our families at the end of the day.
And then of course, like you said, if we’re all working on the same thing, we’re going to see success and
growth with that child so much faster, because everybody’s on the same page and it just makes it you
know, so wonderful and rewarding when you do see the connections happening and the success
happening after all that hard work. And I think as EIs, we really at Bright Start try to go beyond just the
standard meet every six months and check in and see how things are going. We want to keep that
relationship open and ongoing with providers and just keep that network of communication open, not
just at those meetings, so that we can keep providing those amazing services for families. Absolutely.
Well, any final thoughts on the relationship between the therapists and the early interventionists that
you’d like to share?
Not any really final thoughts as much as I just feel like that’s a really important piece, and I think that
that has really been strongly fostered at Bright Start. It’s something that the owners are incredibly
passionate about. They from the very get-go have facilitated and fostered us working together as a team
and making sure that we make that a priority and that we are making that a priority. I often even am
asked by supervisors, “Are you communicating with your early interventionist? Are you able to get in
touch with them? Are you able to attend those meetings?” So they’re always checking in to make sure
that we have the tools we need or the time that we need or whatever it is to make sure that we do
foster that… really the team part of our early intervention, because they also know how important it is.
So yeah, it’s a really big part of what we do, and I think that having that support from the top down
makes it so that we can all continue to make that a priority for our families.
I think it makes all the difference. Absolutely.
All right. Well, if anybody watching has any questions on anything, please feel free to comment below,
or you can call our office directly at (803) 929-1112, and we’d be excited to hear from you. Thank you so
much. Thank you, Kelli.
Thank you. It was good to see you again.
Bye. Have a good one.