A Day In the Life of a Parent Advisor
Posted by Dori Butts, Guest Writer on 1/7/2022
When I think about what exactly it is that I do, it can be hard to explain because a Parent Infant Advisor wears many hats. First of all, I have a habit of calling them “my babies,” and no one ever knows if I am talking about my own children or the kids I see through the Regional Day School Program. I also have two boys that are deaf, so that has created a passion in me to help and support other families and educators.
As a Parent Infant Advisor, my biggest goal is to help educate parents on the importance of early intervention while supporting them throughout their journey. We help provide direction and guidance through the unknowns and serve as their advocate as needed.
At the RDSPD (Regional Day School Program for the Deaf), I see children under the age of three years old. I also collaborate with ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). Sometimes our visit is at the family’s home, sometimes at the daycare, sometimes it’s virtual (due to the pandemic), and sometimes we may even make a trip to the grocery store.
Communication is key, and I want to help families learn the best way to communicate with their children. I also want parents to be comfortable communicating with me regarding their concerns. If a parent tells me that their child has a meltdown or screams every time they take them into the grocery store, I suggest we spend a session at the grocery store and see what kind of tools or strategies are needed to make daily routines and experiences more manageable and enjoyable.
I have also had daycare teachers explain to me that the child refuses to put on their hearing aids after a nap or the teacher doesn’t feel comfortable with the equipment. In that case, I make sure I visit at that specific time to help educate and support the teachers. I’ve also had parents ask, “What can you do for a newborn—they can’t sign?” In this case, I explain that I am here to help them navigate the appointments, find resources, and whatever else might come up. If the family wants to use sign language, I suggest we start working on their sign language skills and build their vocabulary so the child will eventually learn and understand sign language as well.
When the child is coming up on their 3rd birthday, I work on helping the family transition into the next step of their child’s education journey. Once the child turns three years old, they have many different options. They will no longer receive my services as a Parent Infant Advisor and ECI services also end. Some of our children go to the RDSPD program, while others may choose to stay in their current district for various reasons. Whether I see the babies for a few short months or the first few years of their lives, I have a strong bond with each and every baby and their families. Not only do I have the opportunity to see them in the Parent Infant Program, but I also see them if they enroll in the RDSPD Program.
With the Pre-K aged kids, I work on language intervention and building their communication skills in addition to reviewing what they are working on in class. Once they transition to kindergarten and up, I get the opportunity to be their Reading Intervention Teacher and see them multiple times a week. I feel like this continuity of care helps parents have peace of mind knowing a familiar face will be there with their child and collaborating with their teachers.
Every day is a new day in the life of a Parent Infant Advisor, and I feel so fortunate to work with such wonderful kids and their families!
Dori Butts, Parent Infant Advisor, Ector County RDSPD, Odessa, TX