All young children who are at-risk for or who have been identified with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities1 should have access to high-quality, affordable developmental services in natural environments. These services should build on the strengths of the child and family, address their needs, be responsive to their culture and personal priorities, and be delivered through research-based practices.
Access to and quality of intensive intervention for children with developmental delays and disabilities remains inadequate, despite a validated knowledge-base that establishes its critical importance. Early intervention services are inconsistent at the state and local level. Often such services are neither appropriate, nor well-timed, nor sufficient in intensity and quality to promote positive development or to prevent secondary conditions.
Many children at risk for developmental disabilities due to environmental and/or biological factors are not identified in a timely fashion. Major barriers include inadequate funding and service systems which do not accommodate the needs of families.
Early childhood services must be strengthened at the national, state, and local level. Screening and early identification must be readily available in the community and widely publicized through awareness campaigns and local child-find initiatives. Early childhood services should enhance the overall well-being and development of children who have or are “at risk” for developmental disabilities.
Early childhood services should also provide family support that:
Children with, or at risk for, developmental disabilities must be identified and served as early as possible. Clear evidence has established that:
Measurable, cost-effective, and sound intervention will advance the development of children and support their health, well-being, and community participation. Substantial research and successful experience have established that early childhood services should:
Families are the constant in children’s lives, and the primary source of lifelong support and early learning. Families should be supported in making informed decisions and in partnering effectively with professionals to achieve positive outcomes. Research and practical experience have established that:
Children and families must have access to a system of evidence-based services which is:
Research and successful practical experience have established that:
The Arc of the United States and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities supports universal access to high quality, research-based, family-centered early childhood services for all children, between birth and five years at risk for developmental delay.
Joint Statement with the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).
1 “People with intellectual disability and/or developmental disabilities” refers to those defined by the AAIDD classification and DSM IV. In everyday language, they are frequently referred to as people with cognitive, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities although the professional and legal definitions of those terms both include others and exclude some defined by DSM IV.