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Infancy and Early Childhood: The Practice of Clinical Assessment and Intervention with Emotional and Developmental Challenges.

The following are developmentally derived recommendations for an educational program for infants and young children with pervasive and multiple developmental delays and dysfunctions.

1. The program needs to focus during part of each day on the interaction patterns of the infant or young child and his or her parents .... This work must take into account the child' s individual differences, the parents' own personalities, and the family's dynamics. This program can be carried out by educators, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and mental health professionals ....

2. A professional needs to consult with the parents at least once a week to help with family dynamics and interactive patterns at home. Periodic or regular home visits should involve both parents and other family members and caregivers who live with the family, as needed.

3. The child should spend part of each day in a small peer group, where certain conceptual abilities geared to the developmental level of the child are fostered, but where simultaneously, the core developmental competencies are also supported. In this context, early childhood educators or special educators should be well equipped to promote the core competencies as well as offer opportunities to master age appropriate skills and concepts. A combination of interactive play, semistructured activities, and selected structured activities is usually appropriate for this goal.

4. The group that the handicapped child finds himself in should be one or two handicapped children per five nonhandicapped children of a similar age or developmental level. Grouping children with handicaps together may not be in the interest of any individual child, especially if the handicap involves difficulties in communication or social interaction. In order for children to be able to use peer relationships to learn how to communicate and interact more appropriately, they require peers who can respond in an ageappropriate way to emerging communicative and interactive gestures ....

5. Teachers should have training and interest in mobilizing peer-topeer interaction, particularly between the handicapped child and his nonhandicapped counterpart. The best method is not to order the interaction but to create interactive opportunities.

In addition to small groups at school, children with developmental challenge require more not less time playing one-on-one at home with peers. Same aged or younger children, who are very interactive, give the delayed child a chance to abstract the principle of social interaction. Four to five play dates per week is not too much.

For his long term educational goals the handicapped child needs to be in a small classroom, where the majority of children are progressing adaptively in most areas. In this setting educators can work with the few handicapped children one-on-one around special skill areas, such as speech, concept information, occupational therapy goals, and others.

All members of the group should be considered to be part of the same social milieu.

6. If the child's handicap involves only motor development or a medical illness that does not involve the capacity to communicate, socially interact, or organize thinking, then it is less critical that the child be surrounded by nonhandicapped or nonmedically impaired children. For example, children who only have an orthopedic problem or a medical illness may be able to communicate well with each other and give each other good emotional and intellectual feedback. For these children, there are ... social and emotional issues that are important to consider in terms of constructing the optimal peer group. They too may benefit from being with nonhandicapped children, but their ability to communicate will not depend on it.

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Author:Greenspan, Stanley I.
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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