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Special Instruction and Natural Environments: Best Practices in Early Intervention

Childress, Dana C. MEd


Special instruction is one of many services available to families whose children qualify for early intervention under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA (1997) emphasizes the provision of these services in natural environments, as well as the importance of fully involving families in all aspects of intervention. A review of the literature suggests that special instruction, as with other services, may be most effective when provided within the context of natural environments, using a team approach among professionals and collaboration with parents. Providing services in this manner can be a challenge for many early intervention personnel. Guidance for personnel who provide motor and speech/language therapy is present in the literature; guidance for early intervention staff who provide special instruction is needed. This article discusses best practices for special instruction provided in the context of natural environments, and includes practical strategies for special instructors to bridge the gap between best practice and actual work in the field.

From the Chesapeake Infant Intervention Program, Chesapeake Community Services Board, Chesapeake Va.

Corresponding author: Dana C. Childress, MEd, Chesapeake Infant Intervention Program, Chesapeake Community Services Board, 1417 N Battlefield Blvd, Suite 304, Chesapeake, VA 23320 (e-mail:

©2004Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.