On July 1–3 of this year, the International Society on Early Intervention (ISEI) cosponsored an international conference at St. Petersburg State University, Russia. The conference was attended by more than 700 representatives from 42 countries, and more than 325 papers and posters were presented. The Plenary Sessions by Rifkat Muhamedrahimov, Arnie Sameroff, and Joy Osofsky set the intellectual tone for all the sessions that followed, as did three master classes held for attendees. And, of course, the venue and the ever-present and infamous Russian white nights of summer contributed to the international networking and collaborations that occurred among those who attended.
In 1996, the former editor of Infants & Young Children (IYC), Michael Guralnick, created the ISEI. He felt then, as most feel now, that issues relevant to early childhood intervention transcend national boundaries. The primary purpose of the ISEI is “to provide a framework and forum for professionals from around the world to communicate about advances in the field of early childhood intervention.” Over the 17 years of its existence, the ISEI has seen a rapid growth in membership to now number more than 3,000 members from around the world.
All activities of the ISEI are focused on fostering collaborations: between basic science and applied research; between research and practice; and between disciplines for interdisciplinary education and service delivery. One way the ISEI has formalized international collaborations is through the sponsorship of conferences (such as the last in St. Petersburg). Three have been sponsored by the ISEI, and the next will be held in Stockholm in 2016. The ISEI also houses a membership directory on its website to help link professionals from around the world (http://depts.washington.edu/isei/index.html). Most importantly, a Professional Training Resource Library (PTRL) has been established as a free source of training materials for early childhood intervention professionals, and this is also accessed from the ISEI website. This library is a searchable, web-based repository of a wide range of materials representing interdisciplinary and discipline-specific information and materials on core knowledge and skills relevant to degree-oriented, as well as continuing education and certificate programs. The PTRL is hosted by the ISEI in partnership with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).
The ISEI is a partner with IYC. As services in our field of early childhood intervention continue to grow internationally, ISEI members are requesting the opportunity to network with more frequency in order to keep abreast of the evidence-based practices that lead to optimal outcomes for infants and young children. I am proud that the ISEI will continue to use IYC as a vehicle for such networking
It is fitting that our lead article in this issue is authored by Michael Guralnick. In the article, he expands his Developmental Systems Approach (DSA; Guralnick, 1997) for early childhood intervention to an at-risk population of infants and young children. Recently, this group of children is getting more attention as the field examines ways to ameliorate some of the effects of environmental deprivation on children's later learning and success in school. Although there is ample evidence for the successful application of the DSA with early intervention service delivery for infants and young children with disabilities (see IYC issues 14(2) and 24(1); Guralnick, 2001, 2011), this article is the first to apply the approach to services with infants and young children who are at environmental risk as they grow up. In the article, Mike provides a review of program effectiveness with this population, using the components of his DSA. He concludes with specific recommendations for building effective community-based intervention programs to this growing population of infants and young children.
Our second article by Groark and colleagues addresses an issue of international concern. That is, the developmental trajectory of young children who live in orphanages and institutions, many of whom have primary disabilities, and most of whom have secondary disabilities due to their living conditions and lack of caregiving. It has been estimated that the number of children living in these settings could be as high as 8 million, most in countries that lack resources for children's welfare. This article presents an overview of a pilot intervention aimed at improving the status of such children through the training of staff in two Central American orphanages for children with severe and multiple disabilities. These staff were trained in a variety of techniques involving responsive caregiving and specific interventions for the children. This pilot demonstrated that caregivers were able to positively impact child development while demonstrating improved caregiving techniques. Implications of this training and recommendations for the many children who reside in such congregate care settings across the world are discussed. As a mother of four such children who lived in orphanages for their first years of life, I am grateful that interventions such as these are drawing attention to the many children who deserve care and intervention as much as those who reside in more resource-rich environments with their families.
The next three articles apply technology into standard practice in early childhood intervention practices. Nerissa Bauer, Lynne Sturm, Aaron Carroll, and Stephen Downs added a web-based autism module to an existing computer decision support system to facilitate pediatric staff adherence to recommended guidelines for the screening of young children for autism spectrum disorders. The purpose of this technology was to increase the number of children screened by clinical staff. Both user satisfaction and informal feedback were gathered by these clinic staff. Seventy percent of these users agreed that the automation of this process helped them adhere to recommended guidelines. Data suggested that through the use of this system, 66% of a total of 857 children who were eligible for screening were screened. The authors recommend further application of this type of automation to help facilitate the implementation of autism guidelines in pediatric clinics.
Our next article by Paul Yovanoff, Jane Squires, and Suzanne McManus applies a computer-based application to the scoring of developmental screening information as recorded by parents. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) has been used extensively over many years as a family-administered paper-pencil, picture-assisted developmental questionnaire. The ASQ requires the parents observe their children's behavior and then rate them on a developmental continuum. This article presents a study in which parents were asked to enter the data on their children into a computer or complete it via the traditional paper-pencil mode. Statistical analyses between scores using the paper-pencil mode versus the web-based measure suggested that the results were interchangeable. Recommendations from the authors include the use of computer-completed screens, when appropriate, to facilitate the timely identification of infants and young children who have developmental concerns that warrant further evaluation.
The next article by Karen Benzies and colleagues examines the effect of a video-modeling intervention on the skills of first-time fathers of late preterm infants. This study evaluated the effects of an educational and behavioral intervention to strengthen fathers' skills when interacting with their babies. The intervention consisted of video recording of the fathers during play with their babies and then providing positive feedback and suggestions to the fathers to enhance both the interactions and communication development of their children. The fathers who received this minimal intervention demonstrated significantly higher scores as measured by the Parent–Child Interaction Teaching Scale. Recommendations for using such interventions to enhance parents' skills are provided, as are recommendation about including fathers in interventions to improve the outcomes of their children.
Our last study by Lisa Knoche, Miriam Kuhn, and Jungwon Eum describes a qualitative study examining the use of coaching in early childhood settings. Coaching has become a prevalent method to provide training and technical assistance to caregivers and service providers. Although highly recommended as an effective adult learning practice, there is little research on the perception of the recipients of the coaching process. This study examined the benefits and challenges to those participating in the coaching relationship: parents, preschool teachers, and childcare providers. Data were analyzed qualitatively, and the results suggested that the overall quality of coaching did affect the coaching outcomes and the perceptions of those who received the coaching. This article concluded by identifying both the strengths and limitations of a coaching process as part of in-service support of training provided to early childhood providers.
As always, I want to thank the authors for submitting their manuscripts to IYC and the reviewers who assisted in the editorial process. This issue contains articles from new authors, authors from the AUCD network, and authors from outside of the United States.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD