EiSMART is unique in its holistic approach to child development, and the collaboration that it advocates between parents and professionals.
The EiSMART approach to child development addresses the core challenges faced by high risk infants and their families, and is founded in research. It is not one programme, but a framework to which everyone working in early intervention can aspire. The framework has five “threads”, or aspects of child development, that are intertwined and interrelated: sensory, motor, attention and regulation, and relationships, implemented together, by parents and professionals. It extends beyond areas, like motor delay, that are traditionally addressed in early intervention, to emergent concerns such as language development and social-emotional development. Combinations of the EiSMART threads are needed to make interventions successful.
EiSMART aims to lead and transform the practice of early intervention, by supporting the coordinated professional development of early intervention practitioners. It places inclusion of, and learning with, parents at the centre of early intervention strategies.
EiSMART recognizes the crucial role of parents as the main caregivers for effective early intervention. Partnership between parents and professionals to find shared solutions (“co-production”) is at the heart of EiSMART. Parents on the EiSMART team bring with them their life experience, as well as their individual skills and expertise. Together, we inform the academic and therapeutic communities through education, articles, research and study days.
Organisationally, co-production and parental wellbeing are our guiding principles. Parents are represented at all levels of our organisation, including the Board. Co-production is at the heart of how we are Together!
Personally, we pay attention to how we speak to, and about, each other. We provide opportunities for private conversations e.g. our parent group. We acknowledge that everybody brings both knowledge and emotional insights.
Benefits of the EiSMART approach
- Infants: meet the infant’s needs, taking their holistic experience as the starting point with a view to build a sustainable support plan for their future drawing on the S, M, A, R and T threads.
- Parents: the parent perspective is taken into account in a way that enables frank conversations, welcoming parents as active members of the team.
- Professionals: draw from a wide range of effective practices that are available, to build on current knowledge and abilities, to provide effective intervention.
- Professional Teams: every individual can exercise their deep expertise; not having to give up on their own framework of working, whilst benefitting from collaborating jointly with others. Every member of the team contributes to a new way of thinking holistically about the baby.