|About the Book|
Children with disabilities and their families who receive early intervention services frequently transition directly into preschool special education programs. This transition is characterized by a shift from a home-based, family-centered philosophyMoreChildren with disabilities and their families who receive early intervention services frequently transition directly into preschool special education programs. This transition is characterized by a shift from a home-based, family-centered philosophy in early intervention, to a center-based, educationally-driven philosophy in preschool. In the literature addressing this transition, limited attention has been given to the role of therapy and therapy providers (e.g. occupational, physical, speech).-In this qualitative interview study, the experiences of families as they transitioned from early intervention to preschool special education, while receiving therapy services in both systems were examined. Six families participated through face-to-face and through telephone contact, beginning prior to childs first day of the preschool program and ending three months after they started the new program. Utilizing grounded theory, three themes emerged from the data. Families universally described the transition progress as scary, but each familys unique situation dictated the level of severity and the ability to cope with the stressors related to the experience. Families also placed a high value on therapy services and their childs progress throughout the study but reported less interaction with therapists overall, making the role of the classroom and classroom teacher more valuable in becoming comfortable with the new environment. Communication served an important and highly valued mediating role for families by providing comfort and understanding regarding their childrens education programs, daily routines, and therapy programs. A metatheme also emerged from study data. Despite state and federal law that requires the inclusion of families in both systems, as well as the transition process itself, families perceived their role in the preschool system was less inclusive than the role they played in the early intervention system. However, beyond the confines of the special education program, families still played an insider role in the lives of their children. These findings may provide a new lens through which the transition team and other special education personnel can view the transition process relative to current policy and legislation. They can also provide therapists with a greater understanding of ways in which they can best support families throughout the transition process.