Reflections on “Dine and Discuss: Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education”

Dine and Discuss PanelLast Thursday’s Dine & Discuss Networking event held at the Murphy Institute focused on careers in early intervention and preschool special education.  The event features a panel made up of professionals working in all levels of the field including higher education, supervisory and director roles, and special education teachers.  One overarching theme was the gentle reminder that working in this field is about the child and family first.  In order to be successful when working with a child with special needs, you must have the flexibility to put the needs of that child at the moment first.

We would like to thank Dr. Barbara Schwartz, Bonnie Cohen, Hedi Levine, Ilana Lesser, Clare Bonafede, and Brenna Briski for their participation and sharing their expertise with us.We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our audience members and share the many excellent questions and comments they raised.

One question from the audience addressed the need to specialize in a particular discipline or special population. For example, when working with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, two common methods are Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Floor Time. Our panelists suggested having a variety of experiences before committing to a particular specialty.  It’s important to have a wide understanding about an area of interest and to have sound reasoning when you select a specific discipline.

Panelists also reminded the audience to explore opportunities to work with other under-served populations such as blind or visually impaired students or bilingual learners. This can be a unique way to enter the field.

To learn more:

  • The CDC is a comprehensive resource. To learn more about Autism and various intervention approaches click here.
  • Hunter college offers a graduate program for teaching blind or visually impaired students. Visit Hunter College’s website
  • Light House International is a great resource in NYC for the blind and visually impaired, visit Light House International
  • For more information about obtaining a bilingual extension, visit the PDI website
  • PDI’s Career Development Services Center has a variety of resources for anyone interested in learning more about the certification process, including preparation for NYS certification exams

Dine and Discuss ParticipantsJoin the discussion! Comment below to share any other questions you may have, or to find further information or resources from your fellow professionals.



Barbara Schwartz, PhD
Associate Clinical Professor of Early Childhood Special Education
NYU Department of Teaching and Learning

Bonnie Cohen, LCSW
Director of Early Intervention and Butterflies Program
University Settlement

Hedi Levine, M.S. Ed.
Education Supervisor
YAI/NYL LifeStart Program

Ilana Lesser, M.A.
Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT)
PEAK Services and Bank Street Family Center Home & Community Program

Clare Bonafede, M.S. Ed
Educational Coordinator
YAI/NYL William O’Connor Bay Ridge School

Brenna Briski, M.A.
Preschool Special Education Teacher
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of New York City

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