In this issue, Infants & Young Children (IYC) addresses some of the most interesting and critical problems facing our field. Establishing a meaningful link between assessment procedures and intervention goals has been a problem that has plagued our field for some time. For many, there is a considerable discomfort with our standardized assessment approaches, believing they fail to accurately portray a child's developmental profile and to do so in a manner and context that is compatible with intervention strategies that are practical. To address this concern, the advantages of an “authentic assessment” alternative are discussed in this issue.
Any assessment process, however, must be embedded within a sensitive and responsive early intervention system. One such system focusing on children with special healthcare needs is outlined in this issue, providing important principles for care and discussing how such systems can be constructed and monitored. The process for creating such a system is especially instructive.
Another article provides a discussion of self-assessment instruments to help programs ensure that what they are doing is consistent with core values and principles. Taken together, we should applaud this movement to provide useful and feasible tools that are consistent with best practices.
A surprisingly poorly studied area of the early development of children with developmental delays is the co-occurrence of behavioral problems. Recent research has found that substantial behavior problems can be reliably detected even for these young children. This information is reviewed in an article in this issue and, of considerable significance, the possible causes of the emergence of these problems is discussed. Clearly, we now have information sufficient to inform thoughtful preventive intervention programs for children with delays in order to minimize behavioral problems.
Similar suggestions to help translate empirical findings to intervention programs can be found in another article focusing on the role that joint attention skills play in promoting children's language development. This important construct appears to be of central concern for many different groups of young children with disabilities, including those with hearing impairments, children with Down syndrome, and children with autism. In fact, as discussed in another article focusing on the early concerns of parents of children with autism, it may well be important to sensitize parents to social-communicative domains in general and to employ further probes as dictated by responses. In so doing, better tools to identify children early may emerge.
Finally, in keeping with IYC's close connection with the International Society on Early Intervention, IYC presents an in-depth discussion of the state of early intervention in Spain, with a special emphasis on future developments. The systems approach outlined has much in common with that found in North America, yet the differences are equally apparent as well.
—Michael J. Guralnick, PhD
Editor, Infants & Young Children
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