The International Society of Early Intervention (ISEI) recently celebrated its fifth international conference on June 8–10 at the Stockholm University. The conference theme, Children's Rights and Early Intervention, brought together more than 530 attendees representing 54 countries. The conference program offered 14 master lectures, 103 sessions, and 77 posters on early childhood intervention (ECI) around the world. The conference first convened 13 years ago, and since has been held in venues from Rome, Zagreb, New York, and St. Petersburg. Over the years, there have been many accolades from conference attendees about the caliber of the conference content and the relationships that have developed across international borders.
The success of these conferences is due in large part to Dr. Michael Guralnick, the chair of the ISEI coordinating committee. His organizational skills and commitment to high-quality ECI for all infants and young children who have, or are at risk for, disabilities have been the contributing force for the accomplishments and outcomes of these conferences. Michael represents himself, the field of ECI, his University (University of Washington) and his country well.
Likewise, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer brought us examples of how the world's athletes demonstrated their skills and their poise under pressure, whether they won or lost their events. They represented their sport and their countries well and presented a vision of how countries can unite across borders as one world.
In 2004, Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink. It is a book about how we make decisions and how our experiences, knowledge, behavior, and impressions can serve us in rapid, and not so rapid, decision making. Self-awareness of what we know, see, feel, and believe can help us as we negotiate our future and make the many decisions that will carry us there.
I began this introduction with two examples of impressions I had from the world venues of the ISEI conference and the Olympics. My impressions were formed by my experiences, knowledge, and the past behaviors I had observed at ISEI conferences and the Olympics. Both presented to me a future vision where we are all proud to be citizens of the world, and countries are not divided by impervious borders.
Shortly after this issue comes out, the United States will elect a new president who will create a vision and a future for young children with disabilities and their families. One of the two presidential candidates demonstrated a commitment to the population we serve in her speech accepting her political party's nomination: Children were mentioned 10 times, and children and persons with disabilities were mentioned 3 times. This commitment should not be ignored as we each make our decision about the impression we want our country to convey to the rest of world for the next 4 years.
Our first article in this issue focuses on the role of practitioner research conducted in early care and education settings. Shannon Darbianne, Sara Smith, and Nancy Dana conducted a systematic literature review on 20 years of research by practitioners who serve children birth to 5 years of age. The review organized the information along a number of dimensions, including the background of the practitioners who conducted research, the context in which the research occurred, and the methods that were used. Implications of the research synthesis are discussed in regard to what is known and what we need to know using this model of research.
The next article is a research study conducted in Australia by Coral Kemp, Jennifer Stephenson, Megan Cooper, and Kerry Hodge. The study compares the use of picture books versus iPad apps with three preschool-aged children with severe and multiple disabilities, two of whom also had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A multiple baseline design across the three children was used to document their level of engagement with either the book or iPad apps. An observational recording system measured levels of engagement during the videotaped sessions. The two children who had the diagnosis of ASD demonstrated better engagement with the iPad apps, and the other child was engaged equally with both materials. Implications for technology use in inclusive classrooms were provided.
Jill Harris and Amy Norton describe a model of developmental screening used in an underserved community of high-risk young children experiencing health disparities because of poverty and lack of access to services. A developmental screening program was established using free bilingual clinics that targeted children aged 1–5 years. Both the Ages and Stages Questionnaire–Third Edition (ASQ-3) and the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers–Revised (MCHAT-R) were used with families. Of the 1,150 children who were screened over 3 years, 51% were labeled as being at risk for developmental delays. More than a quarter of these children did not participate in follow-up, but of those who did, more than 88% received recommended evaluations and services. The model is discussed in the context of improving access to care for populations that are underserved.
Our next two articles present assessments of statewide personnel needs in ECI. First, Nicole Megan Edwards and Peggy A. Gallagher examined one state's database of the professional needs of 425 special instructors or service coordinators in the Part C of IDEA service system. They analyzed the characteristics and training experiences of these service providers and recommend needed research to inform and improve professional development for Part C service providers across the country.
Second, Erin E. Barton, Bryn Harris, and Nancy Leech conducted a statewide survey of professionals working with young children with ASD in one state. The survey focused on the early identification and intervention practices used with this population. The results of the survey suggested that professional guidelines and evidence-based practices were not used in the identification and evaluation process for children with ASD. Furthermore, these practices varied across programs/agencies within the state. Of additional concern was that professional guidelines were not being followed with culturally and linguistically diverse children with ASD.
Our last article is a contribution from Spain by Joana Maria Mas Mestre and colleagues. They studied the adaptation process of families who had a child with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Using a mixed-methods approach, the authors interviewed 18 families of children aged 3–5 years. The families also completed questionnaires about the accommodations or changes they made to sustain their family routines. Results emphasized the differences among family adaptations, as well as the cultural and ecological elements that contributed to this. The authors' discuss the need for professionals to understand family contexts in order to assist families to sustain their integrity and sustain identified family routines.
As always, I want to thank the authors of the articles in this issue for choosing to submit their manuscripts to Infants & Young Children. I also thank the reviewers who assisted in the editorial process with these articles. This issue contains articles from new authors, authors from other countries, and authors who provided research to inform personnel preparation and professional development activities.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD
Gladwell M. (2007). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York: Back Bay.