The Application of a Transdisciplinary Model for Early Intervention Services

‘One exception to the lack of published practice models is…“Team Around the Child”’

Paper by:

Gillian King, PhD; Deborah Strachan, MRC;

Michelle Tucker, MClSc(OT); Betty Duwyn, BSc(PT);

Sharon Desserud, BSc(PT);

Monique Shillington, BScN(RN)

This article reviews the literature on the transdisciplinary approach to early intervention services and identifies the essential elements of this approach. A practice model describing the implementation of the approach is then presented, based on the experiences of staff members in a home visiting program for infants that has been in existence for over 30 years. The benefits and challenges experienced by therapists and managers of the program are considered, along with the unique aspects of the program and implications for program management. The managerial and team resources required to successfully implement a transdisciplinary model are high, but the potential payoffs for children, families, and therapists’ development of expertise are considerable.

Two extracts:

Isabella Garcia was a two-month-old little girl who was diagnosed with a degenerative, neuromuscular disorder shortly after birth. Her parents were devastated by the news and overwhelmed by the number of appointments they had with medical specialists. They did not want to spend their daughter’s short life going from appointment to appointment. A transdisciplinary early intervention program with one primary therapist helped simplify services. The family was able to access the supports they needed through one key relationship.

One exception to the lack of published practice models is a family-centered, transdisciplinary model of early intervention service delivery called “Team Around the Child” (Davies, 2007), based on work by Limbrick (2005) in the United Kingdom. Davies outlines 10 model components, including philosophy, family role, key worker role, team interaction, lines of communication, staff development, and the assessment process. Descriptions of practice models such as this translate the rhetoric of TA into reality.


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