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Encore Rehabilitation currently has a pediatric service line that is comprised of both Early Intervention (EI) and school-based therapy services. For those of us that have spent our careers in the geriatric world, the pediatric side of things is completely foreign. To better explain the services we provide in this division I had the opportunity to talk with Erica Holm, the Regional Vice President of our Pediatric Services Division. Erica is a Speech and Language Pathologist that started in early intervention in 2006 and joined the Encore team in 2016, currently overseeing almost 50 employees in the region. 

Erica helped to outline the timeline of pediatric services, highlighting the differences between early intervention and school-based therapy. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted in 1990 and paved the way for early intervention programs to be established by each state. Part B of the IDEA covers assistance for the education of all children with disabilities; Part C covers infants and toddlers with disabilities, including children from birth to age three. Before the age of 3, children may be referred to EI and transition to school-based therapy, if needed, once reaching a pre-school age and beyond.  

“Our early intervention program is not clinic based – services take place in the community, in the child’s natural environment. That could be at home, grandma’s house, daycare… anywhere in the community that the child functions in. The goal is to assess the child within their own environment and how to set them up for success in their own settings.” 

Erica Holm, MS, CCC-SLP
Regional Vice President, Pediatric Services 

Once a child reaches school age (3 years of age and above), they may be followed within the school system. Part of the pediatric service division is a group of school-based therapists that would assist in following children throughout their school years to ensure their overall success.   

In prep for this back-to-school season and with input from our pediatric service providers, here are our top 5 tips to help ensure your kids are set up for a successful school year! 


Getting them to sleep: by age 3, getting into a good sleep schedule is crucial as kids head into the preschool age. Sleep can impact concentration, behavior, and overall health. If a late bedtime is an issue, try to start setting bedtime earlier 15 minutes a week in prep for getting to school. Starting them on a sleep schedule ahead of time will also help to limit the number of new factors that first couple days of school. How many hours of sleep does your child need? – check out the recommendations here.

Prep them for new experiences: there can be a lot of “firsts” when going back to school. Help your kids prepare for those first day jitters by talking about it. Are they going to a new school? Are they riding a new bus? Are they going to meet new friends? Talk about the positives, remind them that they aren’t alone if they are feeling a bit nervous, and even do a practice run if they seem anxious about the new routine.

Consider what they are eating: there are a number of factors to consider regarding nutrition – does your child’s school provide breakfast? Some do, some don’t but eating breakfast helps to support concentration and energy. Does the school send a menu home in advance? Try to review and determine if your child will eat the lunch or not to know when to pack a lunch. Conversation can help to support healthy choices, including picking options like fresh fruit and water and avoiding the snacks and soft drinks.

Create a good homework and studying environment: creating an environment that allows completion of daily assignments will help with good habits – designate a space, ensure materials are close by for easy access, and limit distractions. Identifying what your child may need to transition to homework time may be helpful too. Some are able to sit down and get right to it, while others may need a wind down before focusing in. More tips can be found here. 

Fostering consistent routines: while our lives may feel chaotic some days, it’s important for children to have a consistent schedule and routine to help them feel more confident and comfortable about what to expect each day. In prep for going back to school, these routines can help to ease anxiety about what may lie ahead – check out these resources to help! 

About the author:

Valerie Waugh, OTD, OTRL, RAC-CT
Regional Vice President

Valerie started with Encore in 2013 as a new graduate and is now a Regional Vice President in Michigan. Passion for the geriatric population, interest in overall leadership development of the field, and interest in writing as part of her educational pursuits led her to want to bring attention to important topics affecting the industry and highlight what we can do to continually be part of the changing landscape of healthcare.

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