The preamble of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act) states “disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, and to fully participate in and contribute to their communities through full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational mainstream of United States society.” Powerful words, and a powerful message about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life, including the political mainstream.
This is a presidential election year in the United States. For the first time in history, presidential candidates have developed political platforms that address disability issues; for example, full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and employment and wage reforms. Most importantly, some candidates have employed persons with disabilities as advisors, and others have had listening sessions with groups of this overlooked political constituency. These candidates realize that our country benefits from the inclusion of persons with disabilities across all aspects of the political landscape. This is one way we can ensure that the rights of those with disabilities will be protected and promoted through the life course, beginning in infancy.
Our first three articles addressed infants and young children with low incidence disabilities. Jacob Elijah Attell, Charles Rose, Jeanne Bertolli, Kim Kotzky, Jane Squires, Nevin K. Krishna, Ashley Satterfield-Nash, Georgina Peacock, Isabela Ornelas Pereira, Ana Carolina Faria E. Silva Santelli, and Camille Smith adapted the Ages and Stages Questionaire-3 (ASQ-3) to document and quantify developmental delays among children who had the Zika virus in Brazil. Originally designed for screening, the ASQ-3 was adapted by the authors to provide an accurate measure of children's severity of disability. This adaptation was done with the guidance of measurement experts, and the resulting assessment protocol is described. The authors provide information about the implementation of the protocol using the assessment scores of 150 children who had the Zika virus. This adaptation of the ASQ-3 successfully documented the effects of the Zika virus on children's development. Recommendations for further applications of the protocol are discussed.
Our next article by Nicole McDonald, Carly Hyde, April Boin Choi, Amanda C. Gulsrud, Connie Kasari, Charles A. Nelson III, and Shafali S. Jeste described a pilot intervention for very young children having the low incidence disability of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Children with TSC are at-risk for neurodevelopmental disorders and can demonstrate delays in social communication and cognitive abilities, yet there are few empirical studies using behavioral interventions with this population of young children. The described study was designed to improve early social communication and play skills in five children with TSC younger than 45 months. The intervention was an evidence-based parent-mediated intervention and parents demonstrated the ability to implement the intervention with fidelity. The children demonstrated developmental gains in comparison to peers, and the authors provided recommendations for the further study of this intervention with young children with TSC and their families.
Christan Grygas Coogle, Allison Ward Parsons, Leslie La Croix, and Jennifer R. Ottley described an intervention study that used an alternating treatment, single-case design to document the effects of an intervention with two preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder. The study compared three interventions to expand the expressive vocabulary of the children, each implemented by the classroom teacher during classroom activities and routines. The interventions included dialogic reading, modeling, and a combination of both dialogic reading and modeling. Each condition was successful, though the dialogic reading condition had the most robust effect on both of the children's labeling of target vocabulary words. Recommendations for expanding the use of dialogic reading to improve expressive vocabulary are provided by the authors.
The next article by Lucy Barnard-Brak, Tara Stevens, and Zhanxia Yang provided insight into an early intervention variable that has not been examined extensively: the attrition of parents from early intervention services, despite their child's eligibility of for such services. The authors looked at both the conditions and predictors of this issue for parents who left early intervention, and for parents who were dismissed from early intervention because of lack of contact with the program. Though this is a preliminary examination, it was found that families who were Hispanic were less likely to leave early intervention, but more likely to be dismissed from early intervention. The authors shared implications and recommendations from their findings.
Our last article by Chieh-Yu Chen, Jane Squires, and Kathleen Scalise examined the psychometric properties of the Ages & Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional Second Edition (ASQ:SE-2) using item response theory. Two models of social emotional competence were compared. A unidimensional model which reflected a compound construct of social-emotional competence, and a multidimensional model that proposed that social and emotional competences were related, but different constructs. The results indicated the multidimensional structure presented a better fit for the ASQ:SE-2 sample across most age intervals. The relationship between the two dimensions presented a moderate correlation during infancy, and a stronger relationship in older ages. The authors discussed the implications of a multidimensional social-emotional assessment model for screening and assessing both dimensions of a child's social development.
As always, I would like to thank the authors for submitting their work to Infants & Young Children, and the reviewers who assisted the editorial process to bring these manuscripts to publication. The articles represent international authors, authors from the AUCD network, and new authors.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD