Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Day in the Life of... Alleiah Keeley, Developmental Specialist

As we've mentioned when we introduced this new blog to all of you, one of our plans is to invite guest contributors to write and share their perspectives. We'd like you to hear a variety of voices from the field, and our hope is that you will have opportunities to interact with more participants of the SIG. Please contact us if you know an individual who you would like to feature on the blog - it could be a practitioner, parent/caregiver, training provider, professor, researcher, advocate, or any role relevant to early intervention.

Today we are launching our "A Day in the Life of..." series with our first guest post, written by Alleiah Keeley, a Developmental Specialist from Ohio.

Alleiah, take it away!

1.     Name:

Alleiah Keeley

2.     Role/position: (can be more than one, e.g., practitioner and parent of a child in EI)
  • Developmental Specialist; I provide special instruction to children and their families receiving IDEA Part C early intervention services.
  • Ohio Division for Early Childhood President-Elect

3.     Length of time in role or position:

I’ve been at Nisonger Center since August 2014, immediately upon completing the Early Intervention Certificate program at Kent State University. Literally the day after!

I’ve been Ohio DEC’s president-elect since January 2016. I joined the board in July 2014 as the Student Connections Chair.

4.     Location:

The Ohio State University Nisonger Center Early Childhood Education Program in Columbus, Ohio.

5.     What brought you to the field of Early Intervention?

I received my bachelor’s degree in special education at Kent State University and obtained my K-12 intervention specialist teaching license in 2012. Upon entering the field of special education, the value of early intervention was truly apparent. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and their families as early as possible. 

       Soon after discovering my desire to intervene early, I was connected to Kent State University’s Early Intervention Certificate program and was funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). I was thrilled to be chosen as one of the members of their first cohort of OSEP scholars to study at the graduate level to serve children birth-3 and their families in the natural environment.

6.     Describe a typical work day:

A typical work day? This question makes me laugh a bit because I believe there is no such thing! This is one of the many reasons why I love my job!! No day is the same. I typically visit about 4 to 5 children on my caseload a day. Most of my visits occur in the home context, but I have several children that I see in their child care centers as well. Now that it is summer, many of my families have been wanting to go outside and play- another reason why I have such an awesome job! Each visit includes a discussion reflecting on the previous joint plan established at the last visit and setting priorities for the current visit. My visits are very individualized, but always focus on building the adult’s capacity to support their child’s development within everyday routines and activities through a coaching style of interaction.

7.     Successes you’ve experienced in the field:

I’ve experienced success both big and small in my short time in the field of early intervention!

I feel most successful when a caregiver (parent, teacher, guardian, etc.) finds an activity that they find successful in working towards their outcome(s) completely independently and cannot wait to show me. Those visits are my favorite!

Another success is how the Nisonger Center’s early intervention services have completely transformed since my time at OSU. We previously had a center-based early intervention service delivery model where children were bussed in and we provided services in classrooms. We've transformed our classrooms into inclusive childcare classrooms with 1/3 ratio of children receiving EI services. We now serve children and their families in the community, wherever they happen to live, learn and play! We have 10 children in-house that are in our center because their families need childcare. The intervention staff builds the capacity of the lead teachers (lead general education teachers and assistants) in supporting their students' developmental needs and meeting IFSP outcomes through a coaching style of interaction in the classrooms, as well as doing visits with the families in the evenings and weekends. We no longer have children bussed here for their 'EI services'. It's SO exciting. We are using a true transdisciplinary team model, with the Primary Service Provider approach and coaching style of interaction.

8.     Concerns or challenges you’ve experienced in the field:

Change is hard. Period. My biggest challenge in the field has been inspiring change. I have found that providing the knowledge of recommended practices, passion, and positivity has been my best friend through the challenges that change brings. I’ve also had the pleasure to work with an incredible group of colleagues that share the same vision.

9.     Here's a link to the DEC Recommended Practices: . Please describe how you have used a Recommended Practice/s with young children and/or families.

I spend much my day using Recommended Practices E1: "Practitioners provide services and supports in natural and inclusive environments during daily routines and activities to promote the child’s access to and participation in learning experiences" (DEC, 2014, p. 9) and F5: "Practitioners support family functioning, promote family confidence and competence, and strengthen family-child relationships by acting in ways that recognize and build on family strengths and capacities" (DEC, 2014, p. 10). Our new model that I’ve described above serve as a vignette of these two RPs.

10.  How have you used any other DEC resource to guide your work?

My favorite DEC resource and journal is Young Exceptional Children! Does it make me a nerd if I get excited when it comes in the mail? There’s always a relevant article in there for me and I love how they are written for the busy practitioner. I especially like passing the articles around the office!

11.  Are you going to the DEC 2017 Conference (  in Portland, OR? What are you looking forward to the most? (OR, if you are not attending this year, have you attended a DEC conference in the past? What did you gain from the experience?)

I just booked my flight to Portland, OR last week for DEC 2017! I’m so excited!! What I’m looking forward to the most is the awesome line-up of keynote speakers!

12.  Any EI-related question you would like to pose to the DEC EI SIG community?

I’ve mentioned a few things above that I love most! What do you love most about your role in early intervention?


Thank you, Alleiah, for your time in contributing to our blog! Your enthusiasm and commitment to the field shines through in your writing, as we're certain it does in your work as well. 

(And yes, we get excited when Young Exceptional Children arrives in the mail, too!) 

We'd love it if you would chime in and respond to Alleiah's question in the comments section below!  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Five Numbers to Remember about Early Childhood Development (from Harvard University)

Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child released a brief entitled "Five Numbers to Remember about Early Childhood Development". It is from 2009, but still important to read today. The five numbers are:

  1. More Than 1 Million New Neural Connections Per Second'
  2. 18 Months: Age At Which Disparities in Vocabulary Begin to Appear
  3. 90 - 100% Chance of Developmental Delays When Children Experience 6 - 7 Risk Factors
  4. 3:1 Odds of Adult Heart Disease After 7 - 8 Adverse Childhood Experiences
  5. $4 - $9 in Returns For Every Dollar Invested in Early Childhood Programs

Read the entire brief HERE. There is also a PDF version that you can download. 

Center on the Developing Child (2009). Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development (Brief). Retrieved from

Friday, June 9, 2017

FRIDAY FEATURE: OSEP Resource on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Here is a free resource from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

The topical brief includes an overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a description of interventions, and a list of online resources.

Download the document HERE.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Our hopes for this blog

To the DEC EI SIG:

In response to members of our community who are not social media users (Facebook, Twitter), we created this EI SIG blog in which our members can access the same information, comment on posts, and interact with each other.

So far, we've been able to archive most of this year's Facebook posts into the blog, including the "Tuesday Tidbits" (featuring a DEC Recommended Practice) and "Friday Features" (summarizing an article primarily from the Young Exceptional Children journal, or another resource).

We hope you like the blog format. We will continue to communicate with you across the different channels (email listserv, Facebook, Twitter, blog) -- the blog is just another option!

We've received questions from members about ways to interact with each other and share information and resources. Remember, these online outlets will be more successful and effective the more you use them and the more you engage with the content and each other.

We are also developing other ideas for the blog such as inviting different guest authors so that you can hear other perspectives, and to encourage brainstorming and dialogue among our members. Stay tuned!

Please write us or comment below if you have other ideas for us to consider for this blog. In the end, we'd like the blog to be useful to YOU as an EI SIG participant.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

U.S. Department of Education Launches Revamped IDEA Website

(re-post from the Division for Early Childhood, June 5, 2017)

Image from

There is a new federal portal for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act information, which launched June 1. From the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, the new website offers an updated design, expanded content and search capabilities, and enhanced accessibility.

View the new website at

Telepractice Resources

Many DEC Early Intervention Community of Practice (CoP) members have asked for telepractice resources as temporary changes in how we provide...