The purpose of this course is to enable infants and toddlers with disabilities to acquire and apply developmentally appropriate skills in natural environments. Specific course content must include outcomes identified by the Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) team.
The rapid growth of infants and toddlers that takes place during this period involves the development of strength, balance, and coordination. A child’s needs for physical support and intervention vary according to their specific motor delays and disabilities, with the ultimate goal being that the child can move as independently as possible in the environment. Physical support includes positioning and handling, adaptive equipment and tools, and special furniture.
Positioning and handling refers to the way adults physically interact with the young child, such as picking up, holding, carrying, and lying down. Optimal positioning ensures that the child functions as independently as possible. Positioning equipment and adaptive tools are prescribed and monitored by a licensed occupational or physical therapist.
Gross Motor Development (refinement and coordination of large muscle movements)
- Gain strength and control in supine (back) and prone (stomach) positions.
- Gain control needed to remain stable during transitional movements, such as raising hands to be lifted, rolling over, or keeping neck stable when being lifted.
- Gain balance and control needed to maintain a sitting position independently.
- Gain balance and control needed to maintain a standing position independently.
- Gain balance and control needed to walk independently.
- Gain balance and control needed to use adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and scooter boards, for independent exploration of the environment.
Fine Motor Development (refinement and coordination of small muscle movements)
- Gain strength and control needed to reach for an object.
- Gain strength and control needed to grasp an object.
- Gain strength and control needed to release an object.
- Gain strength and control needed to manipulate an object.
- Gain strength and control needed for bilateral (both hands) coordination of objects.
- Gain control and coordination needed for use of utensils, toys, and tools, such as spoon, crayon, and shovel.
- Gain oral motor control needed to establish basic feeding skills, such as sucking, swallowing, chewing, and biting.
- Gain skills needed to eat independently, such as holding a bottle, grasping finger foods, using utensils, and drinking from cup.
- Cooperate with dressing and undressing routines, such as lifting arms and raising foot.
- Gain skills needed to undress and dress self as independently as possible.
- Cooperate with grooming routines, such as bathing, washing hands, brushing teeth, and wiping nose.
- Gain skill needed to groom self as independently as possible, such as washing and drying hands and wiping own nose.
- Cooperate with toileting routines, such as allowing diaper to be changed, indicating awareness of diaper being wet or dry, and sitting on toilet when asked.
- Gain skills needed to participate in toileting, such as indicating the need to use the toilet and using the toilet when placed on the seat.
- Gain skills required to indicate physical needs, such as hunger, thirst, pain, and tiredness.
Approaches to Learning
This section describes children’s attitudes and dispositions toward learning, rather than specific content knowledge. Children’s approaches to learning are highly dependent on the quality and quantity of interactions with supportive adults. Children benefit from participating in learning positive environments that provide a variety of sensory experiences, access to developmentally appropriate toys and materials, and multiple opportunities for exploration.
Children’s individual needs vary as a result of specific delays and the effect of their disability. In structuring the environment, considerations should be given to providing multiple ways to engage children and ensure access to a variety of toys and materials at different developmental levels. Individual supports may include adaptive toys, such as switch-activated for children with physical impairments. For children with sensory needs, supports can be provided in toys with auditory, visual, or tactile stimulation. Teachers may use physical, visual, and verbal cues, along with predicable schedules and routines, to provide environmental support.
Eagerness and Curiosity
- Show awareness and interest in materials, objects, people, and sounds in the environment.
- Explore objects to see how they work (dumping things out of containers, spinning wheels on a car, turning a switch on and off).
- Display interest in what others are doing, and attempts to join in activities (wanting to help with chore, trying a new toy).
- Repeat actions and behaviors that are pleasurable, get needs met, or get desired results, such as swatting a mobile, crying until they get attention, and trying multiple times to take first step.
- Gradually increase attention to a particular activity, person, or object, such as having the same book reread and trying various shapes in a shape sorter until they fit.
- Begin to ask for help when assistance is needed, such as when buttoning and tying shoes.
Creativity and Inventiveness
- Show excitement in a variety of ways, such as bouncing when music is played and making sounds.
- React to music, stories, rhymes and finger plays by stomping feet, making up movements to songs, and changing tone of voice.
- Imitate others and reenact familiar roles, such as pretending to be an animal and pretending to drive.
- Explore toys and materials in new ways, such as using play dough to make a snake and banging on pots and pans as drums.
Social and Emotional Development
Social and emotional development provides the foundation upon which infants can move into toddlerhood ready to use their increasing motor, language, and cognitive skills with confidence. Through relationships and healthy attachments with adults and other children, young children can develop the capacity to express what they are thinking, feeling, and learning.
For children with social and emotional delays, instructional strategies may include the use of frequent reinforcement, facilitated play, adult and peer modeling, social scripts, and individualized behavioral intervention. Collaboration among teacher, family, and service providers is essential for supporting social, emotional, and behavioral growth in children.
Trust and Emotional Security
- Respond to caregiver’s touch and sound.
- Attend to familiar adults through eye contact, touch, and sounds.
- Recognize familiar adults, such as by smiling, cooing, and showing excitement.
- Attempt to gain attention of others by making sounds, smiling, or making eye contact.
- Accept brief separation from caregiver.
- Form and maintain secure relationships with others, such as by seeking help from or showing empathy for others.
- Observe peers during play and other group activities.
- Respond to initiations of other children such as smiling when children approach and waving hello.
- Imitate peers during play and other group activities.
- Engage in parallel play, such as playing side by side with a peer.
- Initiate interactions with peers, such as asking a friend to play and taking a friend by the hand.
- Engage in reciprocal play with peers, such as sharing and taking turns.
- Form and maintain early friendships, such as calling a friend by name and showing a preference for a particular peer.
- Calm when held, cuddled, or fed.
- Soothe self with bottle, pacifier, or toy.
- Be comforted by a person’s voice.
- Gradually increase ability to wait for a desired object or activity.
- Respond to own name.
- Respond to mirror image of self.
- Assert self, such as by saying no, stating preferences for people or activities, and wanting to do something independently.
- Show ownership of objects, such as by saying “mine!” and refusing to share.
- Express feelings and emotions, such as pleasure, interest, surprise, excitement, and complaints, both verbally and nonverbally.
- Show pride in accomplishments, such as by saying, “Watch me!” “I did it!,” and clapping.
Language and Communication
Language and communication are critical to children’s ability to learn, work, and play with others. Children communicate in a variety of ways, including eye gaze, gestures, sounds, and words. Children begin to understand language conveyed through facial expressions, gestures, pictures, and words. It is imperative that children of all ability levels are exposed to language-rich environments.
Children’s specific needs vary according to their individual delays and effects of their disabilities. Alternate strategies are needed when communicating with children who are nonverbal, have language delays, or who are English Language Learners (ELL). Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems may be used to facilitate communication, and include sign language, voice output devices, and a choice board. Interventions may be developed to provide additional support for understanding language, such as peer models, visual supports for sequencing tasks and routines, and cue cards. Collaboration among teachers, service providers, and families is essential to ensure that interventions are consistently provided.
Listening and Understanding
- Respond to voices, facial expressions, and gestures of others.
- Respond to simple questions and requests, such as “Do you want up?” “Give me your… ,” and “Show me your nose.”
- Respond to words intended to inhibit behavior, such as “stop,” “wait,” and “get down.”
Communicating and Speaking
- Use sounds and gestures consistently as signals for hunger, distress, or attention, such as crying, cooing, babbling.
- Engage in reciprocal communication, such as imitating sounds and playing peek-a-boo.
- Associate gestures and sounds with actions, objects, and people, such as pointing and pulling, and saying mama, dada, and out.
- Say basic words or use specific gestures to communicate needs and wants, such as waving bye-bye and saying juice, no, and truck.
- Use two- and three-word combinations to communicate a variety of wants and needs.
- Engage in basic conversation, such as asking questions, answering questions, and commenting.
- Begin to use increasingly complex vocabulary and grammar in context.
- Attend to a short book, nursery rhyme, or song, such as This Little Piggy, Wheels on the Bus, and Where is Thumbkin?
- Look at pictures in a book.
- Hold a book and turn pages.
- Pat or point to pictures in a book when requested, such as “Show me the dog.”
- Join in a nursery rhyme or predictable story, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear.
- Request to be read to by bringing book to adult or holding a favorite book.
- Use writing or drawing tools to make scribbles.
- Make purposeful marks on paper, such as lines, circles, and smiley faces.
- Use scribbles, marks, and drawings to convey messages, such as verbally identifying what they draw and pretending to write a note.
Cognition involves receiving, processing, and organizing information perceived through the senses and using the information appropriately. Play is the primary means through which young children build their cognitive abilities. Play should reflect the developmental level of children and facilitated by the adults around them. Cognitive skills provide the foundation for developing academic skills.
Exploration and Discovery
- Explore objects and people using multiple senses, such as reaching to touch and putting in mouth.
- Explore objects using multiple schemes, such as first exploring, the repeating patterns of behaviors that are more deliberate and purposeful.
- Use objects in a purposeful way, such as stacking objects, pushing a car, and rolling a ball.
- Combine objects in a variety of ways to engage in play, such as hammering pegs, putting sand in a bucket, and pulling toys in a wagon.
- Combine a sequence of steps to complete a play activity, such as completing two- to four-piece puzzle, using a shapes sorter, and stringing beads.
Concept and Memory
- Identify familiar people and objects, such as mother, pacifier, and favorite blanket.
- Use objects according to their function, such as using a pacifier to soothe and pressing button to make music or mobile play.
- Demonstrate differentiated responses to people and objects, such as responding differently to mother versus strangers, food and non-food, and favorite toys and non-preferred items.
- Recognize familiar routines and locations, such as bedtime routine, grandma’s house, and location of preferred items.
- Imitate and later repeat words, gestures, and actions, such as waving bye-bye, playing chase, and pretending to talk on phone.
Problem Solving and Creativity
- Use a variety of methods to get an adult’s attention to get needs met, such as making sounds, crying, throwing an item, tugging, and calling someone’s name.
- Use multiple strategies to engage with people and objects in the environment, such as pointing, reaching, grabbing, and using words.
- Demonstrate understanding of object permanence and persist in trying to obtain the object, such as knows toy is still there after being covered up.
- Manipulate items to complete a task, such as stacking blocks, nesting cups, completing a simple puzzle or shape sorter.
- Select tools appropriate for the task, such as spoon for eating, shovel for scooping, and tissue for wiping nose.
- Engage in imaginative play, such as pretending to cook, wearing a pot as a hat, and banging on a bowl as a drum.
This course is designed for infants and toddlers with disabilities who need intensive, individualized intervention to address the child’s developmental needs and the family’s concerns and priorities identified on the IFSP. The expectations of this course are aligned with the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards, Birth to Four Years recommended by the FDOE in 2010 and the Division of Early Childhood Recommended Practices (DEC, 2005).
The delivery of this course is carried out through collaboration of the IFSP team, which includes the teachers, families, and other service providers. Families play a crucial role in optimizing young children’s development. Early intervention builds the family’s capacity to help children develop and learn. Sensitivity to cultural diversity of families is essential when developing working relationships among members of the IFSP team and when delivering services.
A whole-child approach to early intervention recognizes that all developmental domains are interrelated. An integrated approach is more effective than attention to one domain in isolation. For this reason, the continued involvement of a team of professionals and parents is critical.
This course is designed to address a wide range of disabilities within the population of infants and toddlers with disabilities. Course requirements may be added or modified based on needs and priorities indicated in the IFSP.
The following references were used in the development of this course description:
Johnston-Martin, N. M., Attermeier, S. M., & Hacker, B. J. (2004) The Carolina Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (2009). Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Position Statement. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/DAP
As well as any certification requirements listed on the course description, the following qualifications may also be acceptable for the course:
- Early Childhood Education (coverage only appropriate for appointments prior to July 1, 1998) with the Prekindergarten Handicapped Endorsement (no longer issued).
- Primary Education (Grades K-3) with the Prekindergarten Handicapped Endorsement (no longer issued).
If contracted in accordance with Rule 6A-6.0361, Florida Administrative Code, see Section 1 for specific information on exemptions to the endorsement(s).