Quick Guide to Your Child's Therapists

Photo Credit:  My Child Without Limits

Between the meetings, the paperwork, and the appointments, the special education system can be very overwhelming. On top of that, there are strangers coming into your home (or you are going to a clinic to see the strangers) to help you and your child. But who are these people? What do they each do? What are their credentials? While our list might not include every single person you or your child might work with, it's a list of the most common service providers that you are likely to meet.

Developmental Interventionist

A Developmental Interventionist is also known as an ECSE (Early Childhood Special Educator), and may be your child's classroom teacher or is like an in-home teacher if the therapy is at home. This person monitors and develops goals around your child's overall development to make sure he is meeting his developmental milestones. An ECSE may also help with behavior or sleeping issues, but that depends on the person's area of expertise or experience. Regulations vary by state, but in Colorado (where we are based), this person is required have an Early Childhood teaching certificate with a Special Education authorization.

Speech-Language Pathologist

A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is a licensed therapist that helps your child with either speech (also known as articulation, or the way your child says sounds) or language (putting together words and making sentences).

Occupational Therapist

An Occupational Therapist (OT) is also a licensed therapist, and works on a variety of skills. An OT might be helping with fine motor skills, self-help skills, or sensory skills (which could include feeding).

Behavior Analyst

A behavior specialist that is often brought in to help with complex behaviors related to autism, if the other therapists aren't able to figure out a solution.

Physical Therapist

A Physical Therapist (PT) is a licensed therapist with a doctorate degree and works on gross motor skills. With young children, a PT will often help the child be able to get around their house/the playground/the store safely.


A Psychologist is the only person who can officially diagnose a child with a disability, and are usually employed at the school district or children's hospital.