Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

People of Aboriginal Descent

Early Intervention Programs in Aboriginal/First Nations Communities

As with all families with children with disabilities there are as many differences as there are similarities within Aboriginal families. Each family’s experience is unique to them and to their child.

However, there are common themes experienced by all families of children with disabilities. These themes cross cultural, social, economic and educational backgrounds. Families want the best for their children. A diagnosis of disability can represent uncertainty or possible threat to their child’s future. Also, many families struggle in learning more about the disability, what the disability means for their child, for their family and for their capacity as a family to adapt and to manage.

Beyond the challenges common to all families, Aboriginal families also face other stress factors which may impact their capacity to adapt to and manage disability related challenges. These include limited services in Aboriginal communities and limited access to services for urban Aboriginal families. Available services may not be culturally relevant or linked to services already used by the family. Small communities may have little or no experience with rarer conditions and may have few or no resources available to support the child and family when a diagnosis of disability is made.

In terms of early intervention services that follow culturally sensitive practices for families with Aboriginal or First Nations descent, the Aboriginal Infant Development Program and the more recently created Aboriginal Supported Child Development Program are designed to support Aboriginal families with children at risk, or with delay or disability. These programs work to help Aboriginal families  access and use available assessment and intervention services.  As family-centered services, these programs follow the family lead in determining the family strengths and needs and work to provide the family with a range of individualized services that promote healthy child and family development.

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