What Is Specialized Skills Training?
Specialized skills training (SST) is a developmental service that teaches age-appropriate life skills to children enrolled in an early childhood intervention (ECI) program. SST and ECI services work in conjunction to help your child cultivate successful social and emotional skills
(such as making and keeping friends), satisfy self-care needs (such as dressing and eating), and acquire developmental milestones for everyday activities.
What are the Primary Focus Areas of Specialized Skills Training?
Specialized skills training focuses on cognitive, behavioral, and social skills. These are the abilities children need in order to thrive in school. SST can also equip the parent with skills needed to help the child by using everyday items one can easily find at home. By following a natural order of everyday activities, SST teaches children about sequential development and helps them build an understanding of what should be happening next.
Who Provides Specialized Skills Training?
A qualified early intervention specialist (EIS) provides and oversees SST. In order to receive the EIS specialization, early childhood intervention (ECI) must have a bachelor’s degree in a related subject and complete post-graduate coursework in child development. An EIS must demonstrate expertise in the following areas:
- Stages of infant and toddler development (including cognitive, behavioral, and social skills)
- Common challenges in the infant to toddler age group (such as picky eating or tantrums)
- Best activities to nurture everyday childhood development
- Qualitative and quantitative observations to meet a child’s unique needs
- Session planning (and parental guidance for practice between SST visits)
- Goal setting to improve overall development during the critical period
What Happens During a Typical SST Visit?
The qualified EIS may schedule the SST visit at home or during a normal community activity. By scheduling the SST visit during normal activities, the EIS can help your child acquire skills used in everyday life. Activities that may occur during the SST visit include the following:
- Learning and Using New Words – The EIS may spend time in the child’s play area to help the child learn how to name and identify favorite toys. Similarly, the EIS may use a book with pictures of healthy foods to show the child how to verbalize choices during mealtime.
- Adapting to New Activities – Some children struggle with shifting gears from one activity to the next. For example, a child may have difficulty leaving playtime to accompany the parent on errands. As a suggested activity, an EIS might meet you at the grocery store and instruct your child on how to stay calm so you can finish shopping.
- Using Important Gross Motor Skills – Gross motor milestones play a critical role in how children interact in the world. An EIS can assist in this process by using toys to help your infant roll over, sit, and walk when ready.
How Can I Help My Child Learn Important Skills?
Children learn and develop rapidly during their first three years of life. They also learn best from family and caregivers during normal activities like eating, bathing, or playing. As a parent, you are your child’s primary influence and best teacher. You can use this influence to practice the skills learned from the ECI team each day. In addition to practicing important skills between EIS visits, you should also voice any questions about your child’s progress directly to the EIS and ECI team.
For any questions about how to get started with specialized skills training (SST), contact The Warren Center.