Special Populations

As an early childhood educator, you understand the critical role you play in making sure all children have essential building blocks success and later school achievement. You also can be one of the first to recognize signs that a child may have a disability. The early identification and intervention of a delay or disability can make all the difference in improving outcomes for children. Here are some helpful resources to help you screen for and recognize delays in developmental milestones for children birth to age five, partner with parents and families and support children in your classroom.

Response to Intervention (RTI) Action Network
The RTI Action Network is dedicated to the effective implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) in school districts nationwide. Their goal is to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI so that each child has access to quality instruction and that struggling students - including those with learning disabilities - are identified early and receive the necessary supports to be successful. While RTI was originally designed for K-12 students, an RTI approach is being considered as an early intervention tool in the years before Kindergarten. AFT is a founding partner of the Response to Intervention (RTI) Action Network.

Roadmap to Pre-K RTI: Applying Response to Intervention in Preschool Settings
This Roadmap provides educators, researchers and policymakers with a balanced resource that explains Pre-K RTI and provides practical information to guide the development of a Pre-K RTI model, as well as policy recommendations to help build the state and local support needed to implement a successful model.

On January 1, 2008, the Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior (CEBP) became the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children, or TACSEI. TACSEI continues and expands of the work of CEBP by moving the extensive research CEBP conducted and synthesized on effective practices into actual, everyday practice. The result is that decision makers, caregivers and service providers have an enhanced awareness of, understanding of, and ability to use evidence-based practices to improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with, or at risk for, delays or disabilities. AFT has partnered with this organization to improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with, or at risk for, delays or disabilities.

Touchpoints in Early Care and Education

Based on Dr. T. Berry Brazelton's extensive clinical practice and research, the Touchpoints approach emphasizes the building of supportive alliances between parents and providers around key points in the development of young children. "Touchpoints" are predictable periods in a child's development that can disrupt family relations. These are times of disorganization that we value as opportunities to support family strengths and optimize children's development. The Touchpoints approach believes that early care and education providers are vital allies with parents in their children's development.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Developmental Milestones
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site offers a wealth of information about early identification and healthy developmental milestones in children birth to age 5. It lists important developmental milestones in children and how to act early when these milestones are not reached.
Other informative sections on the CDC Web site include: 
CDC's Learn the Signs. Act Early. Campaign 
Information for Early Childhood Educators 
CDC's Autism Information Center 
- CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Helping Students with Autism, Tips for Educators
This is a new publication to help teachers support students with autism. While the information is not specifically geared to early intervention, many of the tips are applicable for early childhood settings. The report offers classroom suggestions for addressing challenging behavior, the encouragement of social skill development and building relationships with parents and families for professionals working with children with autism.

Get Ready to Read!
Get Ready to Read! is a national program to build the early literacy skills of preschool children. It brings research-based strategies to parents, early education professionals, and child care providers to help prepare children to learn to read and write. The goal is to ensure that all children have opportunities to become successful readers. Get Ready to Read! is an initiative of the National Center for Learning Disabilities

Transitioning to Kindergarten
AFT partnered with The National Center for Learning Disabilities to develop the Transitioning to Kindergarten Toolkit for Early Childhood Educators. While reading difficulties are caused by a multitude of factors, up to 90 percent of children with learning disabilities have problems with reading.  Early intervention helps these children as well as others for whom reading does not come easily.

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