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Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2015 Jul 21;10:25891. doi: 10.3402/qhw.v10.25891. eCollection 2015.

The meaning of early intervention: A parent's experience and reflection on interactions with professionals using a phenomenological ethnographic approach.

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Department of Psychological, Organizational, Leadership Studies in Education, College of Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA;


The purpose of this study is to describe how a parent's partnership with professionals progresses and evolves throughout the service provisioning process. Using a phenomenological ethnographic approach, the lived reality of a family is depicted as the parent walks through different stages of the Individualized Family Service Plan process over a 6-month period. Data concerning parent-professional interactions were obtained via observation notes and document reviews whereas data regarding parent perceptions were collected through multiple individual interviews. Overall, the parent conveyed her satisfaction with actual services especially regarding the professionals' knowledge and parental advocacy. However, the parent also indicated frustration with the early intervention planning process and "obligated" partnerships with providers. In particular, the providers' lack of sensitivity was noted, and greater emotional and psychological support was suggested. The overall process of developing partnerships with professionals can be excessively intrusive to the family's lives. Future research directions are offered as a contribution for the development of improved policies for early intervention programs regarding family-centered practice, utilizing the perspectives of families.


Phenomenological ethnographic approach; early intervention; family-centered practice; family-professional partnership; parent participation

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