Introduction Link
Appendix A
Local Contacts and Services
Early Intervention

Children's Programs and Services     • Children in Special Situations     • Providing Support While Waiting

Children’s Programs and Services

QWhere can I send this child for stimulation and further assessment?

Professionals working with children should make families aware of the range of both universal and targeted programs that are available to them. Universal child development programs are open to all families in Ontario and support developmental stimulation for all children. Targeted programs are designed for families with children who are at risk or have specific specialized needs.
  • Some universal programs and services include:
  • Kindergarten
  • Licensed child care
  • Play groups
  • Prenatal or parenting programs
  • Healthy Babies Healthy Children
  • Ontario Early Year’s Centres
  • Family Resource Centres
  • Targeted programs and services can include:
  • Paediatric services
  • Children’s treatment centres
  • Children’s mental health centres
  • Preschool speech and language programs
  • Infant hearing program
  • Blind - low vision early intervention program
  • Nutrition programs
  • Resource consultants
  • Infant development programs
    (Expert Panel on the l8-Month Well Baby Visit, 2005).
Children in Special Situations

QHow can I encourage and include a child with special needs?

Here are ways to support the integration of children with special needs. Some of these strategies include:
  • Adapt the environment or schedule to meet the child's needs. This may include: the use of picture symbols or cues for directions; larger spaces at activity centres to accommodate wheelchairs or other assistive devices; materials placed on low shelving for easy access, etc.
  • Incorporate various assistive techniques to support children's play (e.g., model how to use play materials; provide physical assistance such as steadying a child's hand while a toy is being used; use peers as a support, etc.).
  • Teach other children in the setting how to communicate using some basic sign language, so that children with hearing impairments can play with other children.
  • Talk to other professionals (e.g., physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech/language pathologist, etc.) who can help plan the play environment and play activities for children with special needs or provide that information to parents.
  • There is a wide range of materials that can support the play activities of children with special needs. Some of these materials include:
    •   Therapy balls
    •   Play materials with textured handles or non-slip surfaces to facilitate a more secure grip
    •   Beeping or ringing balls
    •   Large toy pieces or handles for an easier grasp
    •   Different textured materials or play materials with lights, sounds, or vibrations to promote
        sensory stimulation
    •   Adaptive bicycles, swings, or rockers for outdoor play
    •   Game boards or books with raised, textured surfaces
    •   Assistive technology and devices
    •   Switches and controls manoeuvred by the head, hand, or eyebrow, and much more.
By incorporating some of these suggestions, early years professionals can ensure that children of all ages and abilities can engage in play and other activities to promote learning and development.

Q How can I support children with emotional or mental health problems?

Children with emotional and mental health problems benefit from early interventions. There are many programs that promote healthy emotional development and address early problems. They usually involve the parent(s), the child and a facilitator in individual or group settings. Some of these are:

Healthy Babies Healthy Children Family Home Visitor program
Children's mental health centres are available in many communities across Ontario. Children's Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) goal is to improve the mental health and well-being of children, youth and their families in Ontario. You can find the closest centre through the website at: Some programs require a referral from the child's physician; others may take self -referrals.

Children, who may have experienced trauma (e.g., death, divorce, family violence, abuse, war), can benefit from Rainbows Canada programs and camps

If a child is showing difficulties in coping, the services provided by a play therapist may be beneficial. For more information check Through play, the therapist provides a safe environment for children to express their feelings and work through their problems. The therapist plays with the child using a variety of play materials such as blocks, modeling dough, figurines, sand, board games, dolls, and puppets. Over time, the therapist works with the child to resolve issues in this natural, healing process.

QHow can I support the transition to school for a child with special needs or difficulties?

If a child has been diagnosed with a delay or disability, whenever possible, it is helpful for the school to know before the child starts kindergarten or school. The school has a responsibility to adapt to the child's identified needs and to put resources in place to help the child adjust to school and learn alongside her peers.
  • When getting ready to register the child for school the parent or primary caregiver should:
    •   Collect all information about the student including any reports and assessment from professionals
         and child care and early learning settings.
    •   Provide copies of these when registering the child for school.
A written diagnosis and request from a physician, registered therapist or psychologist is necessary for the school to allocate the necessary resources. In the case of physical impairments, adjustments may have to be made to the physical layout of the classroom. If a learning disability has been identified, strategies to help the child learn within the context of her disability will be made available to the teacher. A teacher's assistant may be required to assist the child.
  • The school should:
    •   Follow internal Board procedures to assess what support the child will require.
    •   Call a case conference prior to the child starting school. The case conference could be set up by
         the school or the preschool the child is currently attending.
    •   The case conference should include:
    • The parents or primary caregivers
    • The class room or resource teacher
    • The child's primary health care provider
    • The child's preschool or child care provider.
  • Having a plan is key to a good transition for the child. The plan should provide:
    •   An opportunity for a school and classroom visit
    •   A meeting with other agencies, parents and school board staff
    •   Parents can provide the teacher with a booklet "All About Me" in which they describe the child
         and provide any helpful information.
    •   Information about the school at the child's level that can be reviewed at home with the child
         in preparation for her first day at school.

Special Needs

Providing Support While Waiting

QHow can I support the family while the child is waiting for assessment and treatment?

Unfortunately, as waiting lists seem to be a reality in many communities, parents may need some additional ideas for ways to enhance specific areas of their child's development. There are many ways to stimulate the development of the child as a whole or focus on one or more domains. Most communities have some initiatives to benefit children and their parents:

  • Early infant/child intervention programs through child care settings
  • Healthy Babies Healthy Children is a universal program in Ontario that can provide intervention or link families to the appropriate early intervention assessment and services
  • Libraries with children's programs and books
  • Toy-lending libraries
  • Parks, outdoor green spaces
  • Play groups
  • Informal drop-in programs
  • Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYCs)
  • Parenting and Family Literacy Centres
  • Best Start Hubs
  • Local community centres – public swimming pools, team sports, clubs, crafts, special events - programs at local community centres may also be subsidized for families with low income
  • Camps – some offer subsidized fees
  • Family Resource Centres
  • Music, art or drama programs
In addition, the Nipissing District Developmental Screens provide parents with a number of activities they can do with their child. Many of the websites listed throughout this guide also offer tips and activities for parents.

QHow can I find credible information about developmental delays or difficulties?

There is a wealth of information for early childhood professionals listed online. However, sources of information found online can potentially be dated, incomplete, or incorrect. Anyone searching for further information should critically evaluate the source of that information to ensure that they are receiving the most accurate content available on a particular topic. Whether searching websites linked directly from this document or through independent searching, users should be vigilant. The following questions are important considerations when critically evaluating online resources:

  1. Authorship/Source
    1. Is the author of the particular content clear?
      1. A clearly stated author creates a degree of accountability for the content in a particular content area. Authorship can also provide the user with an idea of the author's credentials (i.e. academic, professional, etc.?)
    2. What is the source of the information?
      1. Does the site represent an organization, academic institution, government body, etc.? Information from these sources tends to be more carefully monitored and the user can link back to the organization's main website. TIP: look for an "About Us" or "History" section in an effort to establish the source's authority and credibility.

  2. Accurate/Current
    1. Can the facts listed by this site be verified elsewhere?
      1. Are the site's sources of information peer-reviewed? Cross-referencing information from various distinct sources can increase the likelihood that this information is accurate.
    2. Is the information current?
      1. Many websites list when a page was last updated, in addition to the date on which it was created. Check the website's links – sites with links that successfully direct the user to current sites tend to be current themselves.

  3. Objectivity
    1. Does the website appear to accentuate a particular viewpoint or bias?
      1. This can be difficult to detect at first glance, but can be detected by the use of provocative or inflammatory language, frequent statement of opinion rather than fact, etc.

    Adapted from Greenwood & Steyn (2009) and UC Berkeley Library (2009).