Other Free Encyclopedias » Social Issues Reference » Child Development Reference - Vol 3 » Early Intervention Programs - How Children Qualify For Early Intervention, How Early Intervention Programs Work, The Foundation Of Early Intervention

Early Intervention Programs - The Foundation Of Early Intervention

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A growing awareness of the importance of the early years and their long-lasting impact on future development began in the early twentieth century and continued into the early twenty-first century. Building upon that awareness, the idea took hold that providing children with a solid, stimulating foundation in the early years can greatly affect their development. The results of brain research captured the attention of child development specialists in the 1990s. The extent to which a child develops is no longer thought to be due only to the child's genetic makeup. Professionals now believe that how a person's brain, and consequently the rest of the person, develops is based on the interaction between the person's environment and the genes the person was born with. The classic study conducted by two psychologists H. H. Skeels and H. B. Dye in Iowa orphanages in 1939 supports the knowledge scientists have in the early twenty-first century. The results of this study revealed that children in the orphanages who interacted with women with mental retardation improved their IQ scores dramatically, while those who did not receive any interaction or stimulation did not gain any IQ points. In fact, the latter children lost IQ points when given the same standardized test.

In addition to understanding the importance of the environment and early experiences, scientists know that the brain's capacity for learning is not fixed in the early years but can actually increase as a result of early intervention. For example, if an at-risk child with a language delay receives early intervention services, she can often overcome this delay and do just as well as her peers in school. By contrast, if a child has a language delay and does not receive any early intervention services, not only will she fail to close this gap, but the gap will also often widen, leading to further learning difficulties throughout her life. Scientists also believe there are certain times in a child's development that are critical periods for learning certain skills. Although children and adults can acquire new skills throughout their lives, windows of opportunity in the early years open and then close, thus affecting development.

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