Rachel Adams is an early intervention specialist which means she helps kids who have developmental delays that can manifest through speech and language, physical delays, or cognitive delays.
When a parent or a physician suspects a child has developmental delays, they’ll refer them to early intervention and they’ll send out a team who will do the initial evaluation. They’ll come into the home and just play with the child. As they’re playing, they’ll take notes and do simple assessments to see what the child is able to do or still having challenges doing.
The parents are often very worried. Rachel Adams says:
As a parent, you just want your child to be healthy and to thrive. They wonder “why isn’t my child walking yet? Why isn’t my child speaking?” They compare their child to all the children around. I imagine it’s quite frightening for parents. I try to go in and concentrate on building a relationship with the parent, being trusting with them, with their child so that they can be comfortable around me and see we are working together
It helps to give lots of positive reinforcement and praise. I remember as a new mom myself, when somebody would say to my daughter, “Oh Emma, you’re so lucky. You have such a good mom and taking care of you.” It’s such a little thing to say, but we question ourselves so much that I was always so thankful when people would say that and reassure me that “okay, I’m doing what I can be doing right now and it’s going to be okay.”
Early intervention focuses on their natural environment, which would be their home. Families are the focal point of early intervention and the family chooses the goals that they have for their child. So whether they want to focus more on mealtimes or compliance, building vocabulary or whatever it may be, the family really gets to have the most say in what services they do or do not want. It’s really special as an early intervention therapist to be in the home, to start gaining that trusting relationship with the family.
It’s taught me that we grow when there’s a vulnerability in relationships. When I first started, my husband was concerned by the idea of me going into random people’s houses. But I thought “well, this is what Jesus did.” Christ always went into uncomfortable places, but he went to where people needed him, and we can apply this scriptural lesson with preaching and reaching out to people. It’s never going to be something that’s comfortable. The people who need Jesus the most are going to be the people who might be the most awkward to go hang out with or say “hi” or talk to.
You can’t truly intervene or help someone unless you really know them. I’ve been trying to skip the “Sunday small talk” and try to engage in more meaningful ways on Sunday mornings. The earlier we are aware of people who are unhappy or hurting, the sooner we can help them and come alongside. And the same for us. We need to be more open with each other about our own problems.
In a child’s developmental continuum, first they start crawling and then taking a couple of steps, then walking. It’s the same progression, but different children take a different amount of time at each step. And I think it’s the same for us in our, in our discipleship, in our lives as believers. We all have the same destination in mind. We all want to be there with Jesus in the kingdom, but we’re all going to have different ways of getting there. And just because someone else may be on a different level doesn’t mean they’re not going to get there. It doesn’t mean that they have more or less faith than you. Sometimes you doubt yourself but Christ can intervene at all the stages and help us all get to where we need to be. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Christ “ever lives to make intercession for us” and in that respect he is our ultimate intervention. Reflecting on our lives, we can see the times where Christ really came in and intervened in our lives. Whether it was an answered prayer or carrying us through a trial, we can see that Christ has been active in our life. He cares for us, and he wants us to be in the kingdom.
Our goal for each other as brothers and sisters is to see one another in the kingdom. Paul says that seeing his brothers and sisters with Jesus is his crown of rejoicing. If someone is struggling in that walk, then it’s our responsibility to help them because we’re all part of the body of Christ. If there’s a part of the body that’s hurting, you’re going to want to make it feel better because that’s your body too.
To listen to the full interview with Rachel and Helen please check out our A Little Faith podcasts.