Early Childhood
Benefits of Early Intervention
Helps children with disabilities
Gains in cognitive, physical, language, and social skills
Benefits families
Helps families manage the child
Reduces stress
Benefits society
Reduces need for institutional placement
Reduces need for special education
Saves money
Early Childhood
Learning Disabilities in Preschool Children
• Communication and oral language skills
• Phonological awareness
• Rapid naming skills
• Knowledge of the alphabet
• Visual-motor integration
• Fine- and gross-motor skills
• Social skills
Early Childhood
Preschool Children: Ages 3-5
Preschoolers may have a developmental delay in one
or more of the following areas:
1. Physical development
2. Cognitive development
3. Communication development
4. Social or emotional development
5. Adaptive development
Early Childhood
Legislation for Young Children with Disabilities
The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) continues the early childhood
special education policies and practices and incorporates the
earlier early childhood laws (PL 99-457 and PL 102-119).
There are two age groups of young children with disabilities
identified in the legislation:
(1) preschoolers, ages 3 through 5
(2) infants and toddlers, ages birth to 2.
The provisions in the law are different for these two groups.
Law for Preschoolers with Disabilities:
•Each state must provide a free,
appropriate, public education, along
with related services, to all eligible
children with disabilities ages 3
through 5.
Early Childhood
Infants and Toddlers: Birth through age 2
• The policies for infants and toddlers with
disabilities, birth through age 2, are contained in
Part C of IDEA-2004. Services for infants and
toddlers with disabilities are not mandated, but
Part C authorizes financial assistance to the states
through state grants.
• The family system is recognized as critical in the
child's development. The teams must use an
individualized family service plan (IFSP), which
includes plans for the family as well as for the
Early Childhood
Legislation for Young Children with Disabilities
Part B
Part C
3 through 5
Birth through 2
Legislation for Young Children
State education
Agency appointed
by governor
To general or
special program
To preschool
Orientation Developmental
mental learning
of child
Family, parent/infant
Components of the
Individualized Family Services
Plan: Part C of PL 105-17
The IFSP must
1. Be based on a multidisciplinary
assessment of the unique strengths and
needs of the infant or toddler and identify
the appropriate services to meet those
The IFSP must
2. Include a family-directed assessment of
the resources, priorities, and concerns of
the family and identify the supports and
services necessary to enhance the family’s
capacity to meet the developmental needs
of the infant or toddler
The IFSP must
3. Be developed in writing by a
multidisciplinary team that includes the
infant or toddler’s parents
The IFSP must also include
1. A statement of the child’s present levels of
physical, cognitive, communication, social
or emotional, and adaptive development,
based on objective criteria
2. A statement of the family’s resources,
priorities, and concerns relative to
enhancing the development of the family’s
infant or toddler
The IFSP must also include
3. A statement of the major outcomes
expected to be achieved for the infant or
toddler and the family, and the criteria,
procedures, and timelines used to
determine the extent to which progress
toward achieving the outcomes is being
made and whether modifications or
revisions of the outcomes or services are
The IFSP must also include
4. A statement of the specific early
intervention services necessary to meet the
unique needs of the infant or toddler and
the family, including the frequency,
intensity, and method of delivering
The IFSP must also include
5. A statement of the natural environments in
which early intervention services shall be
provided appropriately, including
justification of the extent, if any, to which
services will not be provided in the natural
The IFSP must also include
6. The projected dates for initiation of
services and anticipated duration of
7. Identification of the service coordinator
who will be responsible for implementing
the plan and coordinating with other
agencies and persons
The IFSP must also include
8. The steps to be taken to support the
toddler’s transition to preschool or other
appropriate services
Service Delivery Models
The educational needs of young children
with disabilities differ from those of their
school-age counterparts. To meet the
diverse needs of younger children, greater
flexibility and variety in service delivery
options are needed in a coordinated plan
Advantages & Disadvantages of
Programming Models
Rapport with family is more
easily established
Parents who may lack skills
are responsible for implementing
much of the intervention
Family routines are less
likely to be disrupted
Teachers spend potential planning
and instructional time traveling
from site to site
Children are more at ease,
less frightened in familiar
No opportunity exists for peer
interaction and socialization
Materials can be designed to
meet the needs of the natural setting
Building and maintenance costs
are unnecessary
All primary and support
services are housed in one
Teachers have more time
for planning and instruction
Situation promotes peer
interaction and socialization
Cost of providing facilities and
range of services is high
Center may need to provide
transportation and bus aides,
which increases cost
Families may move and time
may be lost in reorganizing bus
routes or locating the family
Greater flexibility in delivering
services is possible
Same as with home- and
center- based models
Same as with home- and centerbased models
More efficient use of staff
Parents are responsible for
implementation of the intervention
Imposes on parents to transport
Limited amount of service can
be provided to child or family
Stages of the Assessment Process
1. CHILD-FIND: Locate children. Increase public awareness.
2. SCREENING: Identify children who need further study.
3. DIAGNOSING: Determine extent of delay. Plan intervention.
4. EVALUATING: Measure progress. Plan for transition.
Early Identification/Assessment Phases
This first phase refers to ways of finding
young children with disabilities in the
community. Emphasis is on making initial
contact and increasing the public’s
awareness of services. Preschool children
are not usually in the public school system,
and communities must therefore make a
concerted effort to seek them out.
Early Identification/Assessment Phases
This second phase attempts to identify
children who need further study. Emphasis
is on ways of quickly surveying many
children to identify those who may need
special services.
Early Identification/Assessment Phases
The third phase consists of determining the
extent of developmental delay and devising
an intervention program. The emphasis is
on methods of comprehensively examining
a child through formal and authentic
measures to determine whether the child’s
problems warrant special education
Early Identification/Assessment Phases
The fourth phase concentrates on measuring
progress, judging whether a child should
remain in a special education program, and
planning for transition.
Early Childhood
Categories of Risk
Three categories of risk are:
1. Established Risk
2. Biological Risk
3. Environmental Risk
Categories of Risk
Established Risk: The established risk
category includes children with an
established diagnosis of developmental
delay that results in disability or
developmental delay.
Categories of Risk
Biological Risk: The biological risk category
refers to children who have a diagnosed
physical or mental condition that has a high
probability of resulting in a developmental
delay, such as a very low birth weight.
Categories of Risk
Environmental Risk: The environmental risk
category includes children who are biologically
sound but whose early life experiences have been
so limiting that they impart a high probability for
delayed development. Such experiences include
parental substance abuse; significant family social
disorganization; extreme poverty; parental
intellectual impairment; disturbed parent-child
interaction; low parental education; family
isolation and lack of support; and a history of
inadequate prenatal care, child abuse, or neglect.
Early Childhood
Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)
The National Association for the Education of Young
Children (NAEYC) (1991) recommends a set of
guidelines for a curriculum for typical young
children called developmentally appropriate
practice (DAP).
The Brain: Its Structure and
All human behavior is mediated by the
brain and the central nervous system.
The process of learning is one of the most
important activities of the brain.
The Brain
The Cerebral Hemispheres
The human brain is composed of two
halves, the right hemisphere and the left
hemisphere, which appear on casual
inspection to be almost identical in
construction and metabolism. Each cerebral
hemisphere contains a frontal lobe, a
temporal lobe, an occipital lobe, a parietal
lobe, and a motor area. The motor area of
each hemisphere controls the muscular
activities of the opposite side of the body.
The Brain
Right Brain, Left Brain: Differences
in Function
Although the two halves of the brain appear
almost identical in structure, they differ in
function, and these differences appear very
early in life.
The Brain
Left Hemisphere
Reacts to and controls language-related
activities. For more than 90 percent of
adults, language function originates in the
left hemisphere, regardless of whether the
individual is left-handed, right-handed, or a
combination of the two. Language is
located in the left hemisphere in 98 percent
of right-handed people and in a bout 71
percent of left-handed people
The Brain
Right Hemisphere
Deals with nonverbal stimuli. Spatial
perception, mathematics, music, directional
orientation, time sequences, and body
awareness are located in the right brain.
The Brain
Right Brain/ Left Brain
This duality of the brain has led to
speculation that some people tend to
approach the environment in a “leftbrained” fashion whereas others use a
“right-brained approach.” Left-brained
individuals are strong in language and
verbal skills while “right-brained”
individuals have strengths in spatial, artistic,
and mechanical skills.
Concepts About Motor Learning
• Human learning begins with motor learning
• There is a natural sequence of
developmental motor stages
• Many areas of academic and cognitive
performance are based on successful motor
• Perception: refers to the cognitive ability of
the individual to both recognize and
integrate external stimuli. It is a process
that occurs essentially in the brain.
Perception is a learned skill, which implies
that it can be taught.
Perceptual- Motor Systems
• Basic Rationale: Higher level mental
processes for the most part develop out of
and after adequate development of the
motor system and the perceptual system.
Auditory Perception
• Auditory perception—interpreting what is
• Phonological awareness
• Auditory discrimination
• Auditory memory
• Auditory sequencing
• Auditory blending
Types of Auditory
• Auditory Memory: is the ability to store and
recall what one has heard. For example, the
student could be asked to do three activities,
such as close the window, open the door,
and place the book on the desk. Is the
student able to store and retrieve through
listening to such directions?
Types of Auditory Discrimination
• Auditory Sequencing: is the ability to remember
the order of items in a sequential list. For
example, the alphabet, numbers, and the months of
the year are learned as an auditory sequence.
• Auditory Blending: is the ability to blend single
phonic elements or phonemes into a complete
word. Students with such disabilities have
difficulty blending, for example, the phonemes ma-n to form the word man.
Visual Perception
Visual perception—interpreting what is seen
Visual discrimination
Figure-Ground perception
Visual closure
Spatial relations
Object-letter recognition
Whole-part perception
Visual Discrimination
• Visual Discrimination refers to the ability to
differentiate one object from another. In a
preschool readiness test, for example, the child
may be asked to find the rabbit with one ear in a
row of rabbits with two ears.
• The skill of matching identical letters, words,
numbers, pictures, designs, and shapes is another
visual discrimination task.
Types of Visual Discrimination
• Figure Ground Discrimination: refers to the
ability to distinguish an object from its
surrounding background.
• Visual Closure: is a task that requires the
individual to recognize or identify an object even
though the total stimulus is not presented. For
example, a competent reader is able to read a line
of print when the top half of the print is covered.
Types of Visual Discrimination
• Spatial Relations: refers to the perception of the
position of objects in space. In reading, for
example, word must be perceived as
separate entities surrounded by space.
• Object and Letter Recognition: is the ability to
recognize the nature of objects when viewing
them. This includes recognition of alphabetic
letters, numbers, words, geometric shapes (such as
a square), and objects (such as a cat, a face, or a
• Newell Kephart
– Perceptual-Motor Training includes the use of (1) the
walking board, (2) the balance board, (3) the
trampoline, (4) angels in the snow, (5) a variety of
stunts and games, and (6) certain rhythm activities.
• Marianne Frostig
– Developmental Test of Visual Perception
• Jean Ayers
– Sensory Integration Theory
Language Forms and Integrated Language Core
Relationship to the Four Forms of Language
Output or
Input or
Theories of How Children Acquire Language
Behavioral Theories
• Behavioral theories contribute the explanation that
language is learned through the environmental
influences and behavioral principles that shape all
kinds of learning. According to Skinner (1957),
language is learned through imitation and
reinforcement. The infant begins with no
knowledge of language but gradually acquires
language skills, largely through the reinforced
imitation of the language models that are produced
by language users in the child’s environment.
Theories of How Children Acquire Language
Innatist Theories
• The innatist theories offer another explanation of
language development, which is based on the
biological foundations of language (Lennebert,
1967) and psycholinguistic views of language
learning (Pinker, 1995; Chomsky, 1965). This
explanation emphasizes that children are
biologically predisposed to learn and use language
and that human beings have developed an innate
capacity for dealing with the linguistic universals
common to all languages.
Theories of How Children Acquire Language
Cognitive Theories
• Cognitive theories provide another view of language
learning that highlights the linkages among language,
thinking, and experiences proposed that a child (even an
infant) begins with some prelinguistic thoughts or existing
knowledge base and that the development of language and
thinking are independent. Further language development
requires interpersonal and social experiences. Piaget
(1970) theorized that language is acquired as the child
takes in (assimilates) the language in the environment and
then modifies (accommodates) it with his or her own
thoughts and knowledge.
Linguistic Systems
• Phonology: phonemes (sound units)
• Morphology: morphemes (meaning units)
• Syntax: grammar (sentence structure)
• Semantics: word meaning (vocabulary)
• Pragmatics: social side of language (intonation)
Linguistic Systems
• Phonology: is the system of speech sounds in a
language. The smallest unit of sound is a
phoneme. For example, the word cat contains
three phonemes: k - a - t.
• Morphology: is the system of meaning units in a
language. The smallest unit of meaning is a
morpheme. In standard English, for example, the
word boy is one morpheme or meaning unit; and
the word boys contains two morphemes or
meaning units.
Linguistic Systems
• Syntax: refers to the grammar system of languagethe way the words are strung together to form
sentences. In the English language (unlike some
other languages), word order is extremely
important to convey meaning.
• Semantics: refers to word meaning in language.
Pupils who have meager vocabulary
understanding or usage and those who have
difficulty relating a string of words to a
meaningful association may have a semantic
language disorder.
Linguistic Systems
• Pragmatics: is the social side of language, dealing
with the relationship between the speaker and the
• The poor ability of students with learning
disabilities to interpret, infer, compare, and
respond to the language of others may be the
cause of many of their social difficulties. Students
with learning disabilities often have more
difficulty in the social use of language, are less
effective in their communication attempts, and do
poorly in the listening role of a conversation,
interrupting the speaker more frequently in order
to insert their own ideas in the conversation.
• Listening is an often neglected element of
language learning. Students are typically expected
to acquire the ability to listen without special
instruction. However, many students do not
acquire functional skills in listening by
themselves. Over half the people referred to
medical hearing specialists for suspected deafness
have no defect in hearing acuity and no organic
pathology that would cause their seeming hearing
Language Disorders
• A language disorder differs from a speech disorder.
Speech disorders are abnormalities of speech, such as
articulation difficulties (for example, the child cannot
pronounce the r sound), Voice disorders (for example, a
very hoarse voice), or fluency difficulties (stuttering).
Language disorders are much broader, encompassing
disorders of the entire spectrum of communication and
verbal behavior, including such problems as delayed
speech; disorders of vocabulary, word meanings, or
concept formations, the misapplication of grammatical
rules and syntax, and poor language comprehension.
Language Disorders
Expressive Language Disorders
• The process of producing spoken language is called oral
expressive language, and a disorder in this process is called
expressive aphasia. Children with this disorder depend on
pointing and gesturing to make their wants known.
Children with oral expressive language disorders can
understand speech and language produced by others, they
do not have a muscular paralysis that prevents them from
talking, and they do well on nonverbal tasks. Yet these
children have difficulty in producing speech or in talking.
Nonstandard English
• A language difference, in contrast to a language
disorder, can also affect school learning. For
example, the student's language may be a dialect
of standard English, such as an Appalachian
dialect or Black English. The student's language is
similar to that of others in the students immediate
environment, is appropriate for the surroundings,
and causes no difficulty in communicating with
others within this environment. These students do
not have a language disorder, but their language
difference can interfere with understanding and
using standard English and with school learning.

Benefits of Early Intervention