Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Risk and Opportunity

In this course, when we refer to “risk,” we are talking about the wide variety of conditions and factors that work against healthy development in children. Early intervention specialists[1] talk about “established” and “suspected” risks. Examples of “established” or known and diagnosed conditions include biological factors, e.g., genetic conditions or illnesses.  Examples of “suspected” risk factors include environmental risk factors, e.g., toxic agents or poverty. These factors exist on a continuum. They are related to each other in a very complex way.

Risk is part of our daily lives. And yet, risks and opportunities go hand in hand. This can be seen in children with developmental delays, as well as for those who are at risk for disabilities.

It’s true that children with disabilities may have disadvantages compared with other children. But, the actions of parents and early childhood interventionists may help reduce the effects of the risk factors to which children were exposed. We see benefits in early diagnoses for children with moderate to severe conditions, and for those with subtle neurological differences.

[1] References:
Spiker, D., Hebbeler, K., & Mallik, S. (2005). Developing and implementing early intervention programs for children with established disabilities. In M.J. Guralnick (Ed.), A developmental systems approach to early intervention: National and international perspectives, (pp.305-351). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.



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