A Support Approach to Early Intervention: A Three-Part Framework

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Abstract

This article is about a model for viewing and conducting early intervention in a way that deemphasizes professional services and emphasizes the support that professionals can provide. Current approaches to infanttoddler services have not evolved in the past 15 years to the extent we thought they would. In 1985, Dunst1 rethought early intervention, and the next year the first comprehensive early intervention legislation was passed. Both P.L. 99-457 and researchers such as Dunst suggested that attention to families was the appropriate direction to take and was warranted both theoretically and empirically. It is possible that many programs concentrated so much on replacing clinic-based operations with home-based services that they overlooked the major purpose of early intervention, which was to enhance the competence and confidence of children's caregivers so children had the greatest likelihood of developing to their maximum potential. This speculation is fueled by our observation that many home-based approaches are little more than clinical sessions dumped onto the living room floor. Conceiving of early intervention primarily as a mechanism for providing support is an alternative to conceiving of early intervention as a mechanism for providing services.

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