Happy 2010! I was so pleased to have started the year reading http://disability-aroundtheworld.blogspot.com/. This blog is being written by Kim Musheno from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD.ORG). She is spending 3 weeks with students and faculty from the University of Delaware who are visiting 4 countries (Ghana, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, and Thailand) for a “comparative and interdisciplinary study of how disability affects the way people live, learn, work, and play.” The group is visiting people with disabilities, their families, professional service providers, and government agencies in each of the countries. It has been interesting to see that the status of children and adults with disabilities in each of the countries reflects both the wealth of the country and its history and beliefs about those with disabilities. Yet, there is one glaring commonality in the disability service profile across all 4 countries: the presence of strong leadership by parents in the development, funding and provision of supports and services for their own and other children; not unlike how services in our own country have evolved! Another recurring theme from the trip is the need for a well-trained interdisciplinary workforce to provide the highest-quality services to those with disabilities. This need also resonates within our country's system of services. Lastly, in each country that was visited, it was evident that the services in place were always preceded by a vision of what could be. Again in our own country, we have also seen the necessity of a vision to facilitate any system development or change.
Then the earthquake in Haiti happened. By now most know the statistics: the poorest country in the western hemisphere; almost 50% of the population younger than 18 years; 380∼000 orphans before the earthquake, possibly a half million more since the earthquake; and no public school system in place. The devastation seems unfathomable and the future unimaginable, especially for those with disabilities. There are many ways one can help, most notably with donations of money. I am very glad that the early childhood community is helping develop long-range strategies for children of Haiti through the Early Childhood in Emergencies Working Group, under the umbrella of the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development. Both the disability-around-the-world blog and the current situation in Haiti remind us that we are one world, and the future of all children is as important as the future of any child.
I am pleased to be able to present to you this issue of Infants & Young Children (IYC). I am grateful for the hard work of the authors and the assistance of the editorial board as we bring to you these very fine articles. As is our practice, the articles represent the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, international authors, and new authors.
Our first article is by the past editor of IYC, Michael J. Guralnick. He has written a comprehensive lead article on the development of peer-related social competence in young children with disabilities. Dr Guralnick is a world-renowned expert in this critical area of child development, and this article provides evidence of why this is so. The article provides a history of intervention research in peer-related social competence and describes a translational research paradigm. This article also provides concrete suggestions for program development to enhance peer-related social competence in children at risk or having disabilities.
The next 2 articles are examples of intervention practices to enhance the behavior and development of infants and young children at risk or with disabilities. Sharon Judge, Kim Floyd, and Colleen Wood-Fields provide strategies to make play activities of infants and toddlers with disabilities accessible by using assistive technology. Their article contains concrete ways to facilitate young children's participation in activities and routines in everyday settings through the creation of a technology-rich learning environment. Both parents and practitioners will benefit from the information they provide.
Next, Deborah A. Bruns and Stacy D. Thompson provide a thorough overview of the development of eating competence in infants and young children. They also provide many intervention examples to enable intervention teams and families to enhance and improve a child's eating. In particular, they focus on incorporating both child and caregiver eating preferences while promoting positive relationships between a child and a caregiver.
Our next article presents a study that focused on enhancing practices in early childhood intervention by affecting change at the preservice higher education level. Susan P. Maude, Camille Catlett, Susan Moore, Sylvia Y. Sánchez, Eva K. Thorp, and Rob Corso describe an overview of the Crosswalks Intervention. This project was developed to help inclusive early childhood preservice programs to reflect and acknowledge cultural and linguistic diversity. The project implemented a number of recommended practices in adult learning and systems change. The project was able to show positive changes along a number of participant-specific dimensions.
Our international submission for this issue is a study from Turkey. Selda Polat, Aysin Tasar, Secil Ozkan, Sevinc Yeltekin, Bahar Cuhacι Cakir, Sevil Akbaba, Figen Sahin, Aysu Duyan Camurdan, and Ufuk Beyazova implemented a survey with the mothers of 513 children younger than 5 years to determine the factors affecting their perceptions and attitudes about child neglect. The questionnaire consisted of 15 scenarios about child neglect and 12 behavioral descriptions about attitudes. The authors then provide recommendations on building effective preventive strategies for child neglect through traditional community perspectives and cultural characteristics.
Our next study in this issue presents data from the National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study (NEILS). Melissa Raspa, Kathleen Hebbeler, Donald B. Bailey Jr, and Anita A. Scarborough analyzed data from NEILS to develop a framework for characterizing early intervention service patterns based on combinations of service providers who were delivering early intervention to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Their results suggested that services may not always be based on child or family need but rather on characteristics such as ethnicity, income, and maternal education. Other findings on differences in patterns of service delivery, such as age at entry, eligibility category, and intensity of services, were expected. The need for further research on service delivery patterns and the implications for service delivery is discussed.
Our last article is a policy report. Tom Coakley addresses the need for guidance for state systems of early intervention and preschool special education as they develop and deliver intensive services to the growing numbers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Tom has a long history in early childhood intervention and has served in federal, state and local programs as an administrator and consultant. Tom's article on state guidelines and policies demonstrates the complexity of service delivery for children with ASD. In particular, he explores the challenges for state-level administrative, policy, and budgetary staff as they assist providers in delivering effective and efficient services. The issues raised in this report should stimulate discussion at both the state and national levels, among both families and professionals, as we strive for consistent and effective policies to guide service delivery for children with ASD.
As I close, I ask for any feedback from readers or authors on how we can make IYC more relevant and accessible to the field of early childhood intervention.
Mary Beth Bruder, PhD