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The Transition Process for Young Children With Disabilities: A Conceptual Framework

Rous, Beth EdD; Hallam, Rena PhD; Harbin, Gloria PhD; McCormick, Katherine PhD; Jung, Lee Ann PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.IYC.0000264481.27947.5f
Original Article

Over the past 2 decades, the number and types of programs available for young children has increased. As a result, the transition of young children with disabilities has become more complex, resulting in an increasing need for improved transition processes for both children and their families. The literature in early childhood transition contains evidence of the organizational complexities and resulting problems experienced by children, families, and professionals who provide services. Recent research in transition has provided valuable information about the individual variables that impact this complex transition process. Given some of the distinguishing characteristics of the transition process for young children with disabilities and their families, there is a need for a conceptual framework that will guide new research, provide an organizational framework to integrate the current literature in transition, and begin to lay a foundation for improving transitions and the outcomes for children. This article presents a conceptual framework that describes how the complex interactions of multiple factors influence the transition process for young children with disabilities during the early childhood years. This ecological framework is based on the premise that the ultimate goal of a successful transition process is the child's entry and success in the primary school program.

University of Kentucky, Lexington (Drs Rous, McCormick, and Jung); the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (Dr Hallam); and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Dr Harbin).

Corresponding author: Beth Rous, EdD, Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute, University of Kentucky, 126 Mineral Industries Bldg, Lexington, KY 40506 (e-mail:

This manuscript was supported in part by Cooperative Agreement PR Award # H324V020003, from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

©2007Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.