ATLANTA— Faculty from the School of Public Health, the College of Education & Human Development, and the Lewis College of Nursing have established a new course of study to address the shortage of related services personnel in early intervention. The interdisciplinary personnel preparation for Early Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy Services (Early SPOTS) Program is a program of study at the master’s and clinical doctoral levels on effective early-intervention services for infants and young children with significant disabilities and their families.
This project will ensure that a group of fully credentialed related services personnel (specifically speech-language pathologists [SLPs], physical therapists [PTs], and occupational therapists [OTs]) will have the knowledge and skills derived from evidence-based practice to be successful in serving infants and toddlers with significant disabilities and their families.
The Early SPOTS program includes a summer intensive orientation, an interdisciplinary program of three three-credit courses taken jointly, an interdisciplinary practicum, and an interdisciplinary professional learning community that will include supplemental interdisciplinary learning and mentorship experiences over one year of their respective degree programs. Each year, twelve scholars will be admitted to the Early SPOTS program.
Directed by Dr. Emily Graybill, this program is a collaborative effort between the Center for Leadership and Disability in the School of Public Health and the Departments of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). Dr. Graybill notes, “We are excited to be able to address some of the workforce shortages in Georgia’s Early Intervention system by providing high quality training on early intervention to at least 12 related services professionals each academic year.” Dr. Sutanuka Bhattacharjya will serve as the OT Lead. Other team members include Akilah Heggs-Lee and Angela Miles, both from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders as SLP Leads; and Yuping Chen, from the Department of Physical Therapy as PT Lead. The Early SPOTS program, funded through a $1.24 million grant from the Office of Special Education Programs – part of the U.S. Department of Education – is designed to meet the growing demand for early intervention services in Georgia. Over the course of five years, a total of 48 OT, PT, and SLP students will be prepared to work in interdisciplinary early intervention settings providing direct service and family coaching.