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The professionals you may meet

Some of the professionals that you will meet may be members of the Early Intervention Team. Other professionals may work in hospitals or community services.

You will find a brief description below of the roles of various professionals who work with children with disabilities. Since every child has different needs, each family will meet a variety of different professionals, so don't worry - you will not need to meet all of these people. You will also see that different professionals can give the same service. 

Audiologist:

An audiologist helps in diagnosing, treating and checking hearing needs, loss or problems.

Cardiologist:

A cardiologist is a specialist doctor who looks for and treats heart problems.

Clinical Nurse Specialist:

The Clinical Nurse Specialist works with your family and other therapists to help your child learn skills for their overall development. They can help your child with:

  • physical skills;
  • learning through play;
  • communication;
  • social and emotional skills; and
  • everyday independence skills. 

There are different types of Clinical Nurse Specialists working in different areas – including in hospitals and Early Services Teams. They may work with other professionals, such as therapists or preschool teachers. Some services call them an Educator or an Early Years Interventionist.

Early Years Interventionist:

An Early Years Interventionist works with your family and the other therapists to help your child learn skills for their overall development. They can help your child with:

  • physical skills;
  • learning through play;
  • communication;
  • social and emotional skills; and
  • everyday independence skills.

They may work with other professionals, such as therapists or preschool teachers. Some services call them an Educator or a Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon:

An Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon is a doctor who treats problems in your child’s ears, nose or throat.

Educator:

Educators work with your family and the other therapists to help your child learn skills for their overall development. They can help your child with:

  • physical skills;
  • learning through play;
  • communication;
  • social and emotional skills; and
  • everyday independence skills.

They may work with other professionals, such as therapists or preschool teachers. Some services call them a Clinical Nurse Specialist or an Early Years Interventionist.

General Practitioner (GP):

A General Practitioner is a medical doctor who works in family medicine and gives primary care in the community.

Home/Family Support Worker:

A home/family support worker can give you extra support in caring for your child. This support could be minding your child in the home or taking your child to suitable activities in the community.

Neurologist:

A Neurologist is a specialist doctor who treats disorders of the human nervous system. The nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.

Neurosurgeon:

A Neurosurgeon is a doctor who specialises in surgery on the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system. They may carry out surgery on problems diagnosed before birth, in infancy, childhood, or adulthood.

Occupational Therapist:

An Occupational Therapist (OT) can help your child increase their level of independence in activities such as:

  • reaching and grasping;
  • picking up small objects;
  • feeding, dressing and toileting; or
  • coordination, sensory and other issues.

An Occupational Therapist can also help your family get specialised equipment that you or your child may need.

Ophthalmologist:

An Ophthalmologist is a doctor who specialises in the eyes and visual system.They look after the eyes through medical care or surgery and also help to prevent eye disease and injury.

Orthoptist:

An Orthoptist is a health care professional who treats various disorders of the eyes such as:

  • extra-ocular muscles - for example, a squint; and
  • problems with vision - for example, a lazy eye (amblyopia).

Orthoptists work closely with Ophthalmologists.

Orthopaedic Surgeon:

An Orthopaedic Surgeon is a doctor who specialises in problems of the musculoskeletal system - this includes the bones, spine, joints and muscles. They treat problems using surgery or non-surgical means.

Orthotist:

An Orthotist helps to improve mobility in children and adults. They do this by designing, manufacturing and fitting aids, splints and equipment, such as special shoes.

Paediatrician:

A Paediatrician is a doctor who deals with the health of children. They can:

  • carry out medical investigations;
  • make diagnoses: and
  • monitor your child's health and overall development

Paediatricians may have a special interest in a particular area such as; the care of newborn infants (neonatology); the nervous system (neurology) or child development.

Physiotherapist:

A Physiotherapist (PT) can help your child with balance and movement, improving their independence and mobility. They may work on activities such as:

  • rolling;
  • sitting;
  • crawling;
  • walking; and
  • making recommendations for specialised equipment.

Psychologist:

A Psychologist assesses children’s thinking, learning and behaviour. Using their skills, they can:

  • teach us how the child’s condition or diagnosis affects their overall development and well-being;
  • address behavioural concerns;
  • offer support that may help with your child’s overall developmental progress; and
  • support the family at a later stage in making decisions on suitable pre-school and school placements.

Public Health Nurse:

A Public Health Nurse (PHN) may help and support you with your child at home, for example by:

  • offering practical or nursing support; or
  • getting health-related supplies such as nappies.

Public Health Nurses are employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and are based in your local Health Centre.

Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired:

The Rehabilitation Officer for people with vision impairment assesses how a child’s vision loss affects their daily life. Based on this assessment, the Rehabilitation Officer will:

  • decide what supports the child may need to improve their overall independence and quality of life; or  
  • make recommendations on the services and supports children may need.  

 
Social Worker:

The Social Worker is often the first person to introduce the family to other members of the Early Intervention Team. They can offer families help in a number of ways, for example, by:

  • giving information, advice and family support; 
  • offering support and counselling for you and your family to help you adjust to your child’s condition; and 
  • helping you to access services in your local community that may be helpful.

Speech & Language Therapist:

A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) helps your child to communicate. The therapist may look at areas such as:

  • your child’s understanding of language – that is, the words and sentences used around them;
  • the way they use language to express themselves;
  • the sounds of speech; 
  • alternate and augmentative ways of communicating;
  • other communication skills, such as turn taking, eye contact and use of gesture; or
  • oral-motor or feeding problems.

The Speech and Language Therapist may work directly with your child or indirectly through the parent(s).

 

Other professionals who may be involved with your child

Assessment of Need Officers:

By law, all children with a disability who are under five years of age can get an independent assessment of their health and education needs. Each Local Health Office has an Assessment Officer. The Assessment Officer will:

  • help you with your child’s application;
  • arrange for the assessment to be carried out;
  • help and support you through the assessment process; and
  • organise your child’s assessment report.

Click here to find out more about the Assessment of Need process

Assessment of Need Liaison Officer/ Case Manager:

When your child’s Assessment of Need is complete, a Liaison Officer or Case Manager will put together a service statement for you. This service statement will say what services and supports your child will get and from whom.

Click here to find out more about the Assessment of Need process 

Continue to the next topic

 

Page Details:
Author: Informing Families Information Working Group
Date Created 1 October 2009, Reviewed Aril 2015

 

 

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