Early Childhood Intervention and Inclusion in Austria

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Abstract

This article assesses the situation of preschool children in Austria facing the need to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. Eligibility criteria for preventive preschool services and the necessary labeling of children as “disabled” or “at risk” are assessed as inhibiting factors within educational systems that ostensibly facilitate “education” for all. On the operative level, existing support systems across Austria differ in their level of inclusiveness. The kindergarten system can be seen to offer a more inclusive service for children aged 0–3 years. Nurseries and child minder services particularly lack inclusive strategies or resources. Because of economic restrictions and the persistence of ambivalent attitudes among mainstream teachers, the school system faces major obstacles, including initiatives of parents to opt for special schools to ensure social integration and specific (therapeutic) resources. This article emphasizes the need for concrete methods, exchange, and resources for people working with children with special needs and reflects on the partial paradox of current parallel developments.

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