What do we mean by early intervention? Early intervention can be defined as the delivery of a coordinated and comprehensive set of specialised services … [for children] with developmental delays or at-risk conditions and their families. (Gargiulo & Kilgo 2000, p. 30) Important points: Need to establish developmental delay/risk Service is to the child and their family Coordination necessitates partnership and shared responsibility
Rationale for early intervention The earlier a child’s needs are addressed and programming are considered, the more progress the child is likely to make Early intervention is more effective at a younger age because brains of babies and young children are more responsive and flexible Environment, experience and intervention influence cognitive outcomes Head Start is an example of a compensatory approach to learning Education makes a positive difference Absence of early intervention limits development, achievement, success, acceptance and potential
United Nations Conventions United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) Especially articles 2(1, 2), 3(1, 2, 3), 23(1, 2, 3, 4), 28 (1a-e, 2, 3), 29(1a-e, 2) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ratified 2008) Especially articles 3(a-h), 7(1, 2), 24(1a-c, 2a-e, 3a-c, 4, 5)
Universal access Children and families are entitled to support regardless of the setting the child attends Early childhood education is not only a centre-based service; home-based or family day care services are increasing ECE services are diverse and varied in terms of philosophy, hours, environment, program, leadership & management Early intervention support can be provided in inclusive or segregated settings
Six-step assessment Screening Universal screening is based on the concept that all children deserve to be assessed Determining eligibility For example, selection for speech therapy Determining services For example, prioritise between occupational and physio therapy Planning the program For example, Perceptual Motor Program Monitoring progress Ongoing & regular assessment & record keeping, for example, documenting physical development Evaluating the program As an IEP team, with respect to cultural considerations
Assessment misuses Assessment misuse is when assessment is used for inappropriate purposes, or purposes other than intended failing to use tools in conjunction with a range of sources of information accepting test results even when test results do not accurately represent typical behaviour, potential or optimal performance unethical Pathologising is when powerful groups define a construct of ‘normal’ and position others outside their group as ‘abnormal’ (Heydon & Iannacci 2008).
Conditions that pathologise within the curriculum Children are valued for future roles as workers and taxpayers It is assumed that children are unable to make valuable contributions to society Children’s value is based on comparisons to other children Appropriate to use terms such as ‘normal’, ‘abnormal’ and ‘needs’ Teachers decide the curriculum Adults have the responsibility to shape and direct children Assessment should be measurable and consistent (reliable) The purpose of assessment is to support identification and labelling of difference as early as possible.
Conditions that foster strength-based curriculum approaches Children are valued as children Children are recognised and valued as contributing to society, and supported to do so Children are valued in their own right as individuals Focus on individual strengths and competencies and respectful discourse The curriculum is mutually constructed Children have a role in leading and shaping their own outcomes Assessment in not necessarily measurable, but should be valid (fair) The purpose of assessment is to identify interests, strengths and competencies as early as possible
Useful websites Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA) Early Intervention Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (EIAANZ) United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child C.aspx C.aspx United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Key terms Early childhood special education – the provision of customised services to meet the individual needs of young children with disabilities between three and five years of age Early intervention – the delivery of coordinated and comprehensive specialised services for children with developmental delays (or those at risk of developing disabilities or delays) and their families, from children’s birth or point of identification until they enter the formal education system Misuses of assessment – when assessment tools are used for purposes other than those for which they were designed, failing to use tools in conjunction with a range of sources of information, and when formal tests are accepted even when results do not necessarily accurately represent typical behaviour, potential or optimal performance Pathologising – a process whereby powerful groups define a construct of ‘normal’ and position others outside of their group as ‘abnormal’ Strength-based assessment – an approach that focuses on individual strengths and competencies, rather than comparisons with others Universal access – children and their families receive support regardless of where the child receives early childhood education