With the appearance of virtually every issue of the major journals in the field of child development and early intervention, we find new insights into the development of children with specific disorders. Especially for children with well-established and defined disorders, such as autism or Down syndrome, we now have a fuller understanding of the profiles of these children's modal strengths and weaknesses along with an appreciation of their individuality. Moreover, sometimes ingenious studies have brought us closer to an understanding of the so-called “core” deficits associated with each disorder. The challenge for those of us in the field of early intervention is to begin to utilize this knowledge and to apply it to carrying out feasible and effective interventions. Such “translational” research is a complex enterprise to be sure, but one that is essential for the continued growth of our field. Two articles in this issue of Infants & Young Children (IYC) consider this connection between developmental knowledge and intervention. The article focusing on children with Down syndrome does so from the perspective of behavioral phenotypes, a theme that has been presented in many previous articles in IYC. A second article addresses these issues through the lens of current early interventions and programs for children with autism.
Other articles in this issue of IYC focus on critical systems concerns in the field of early intervention. First, establishing evidence-based practices derived from a thoughtful methodology for carrying out evaluations of research is expected in every practice-oriented field. The work of the New York State Clinical Practice Guidelines project described in this issue is a pioneering effort in this important area. Second, the continuing need to improve service coordination in early intervention, especially for children with special healthcare needs, is considered with special reference to professional training. In a third article, a strong case is made for establishing universal early childhood programs for vulnerable children. The principles to help guide those programs are articulated. Fourth, the special issues associated with young children in foster care are carefully examined. It is this kind of critical information that helps organize advocacy activities and services on behalf of this highly vulnerable population.
Finally, the importance of supporting children's self-regulation is viewed from the perspective of cultural practices, particularly in connection with rapidly growing populations of immigrant families. Clearly, for early intervention to be effective, we must have a complete understanding of cultural diversity and its developmental implications.