A literature review is a scholarly survey that combines previous and current ideas and opinions from defined collections for purposes of accessibility. According to Clements, Pawlowski, and Manouselis (2015), literature reviews should contain a central theme and a thesis statement. Although the literature review does not introduce new knowledge to the field of study, it should possess a theme and a thesis statement to show what issues are being addressed in a given paper (Krathwohl, 2009). In this light, this review seeks to explore various aspects of the field of early intervention and the inclusion of children with special needs.
This literature review aims at highlighting and combining various sources to understand the critical aspects of early intervention for children with additional support needs. This review presents the following broad elements that include a comparative study of definitions of children with special needs, parent’s involvement, and types of intervention. A review of strategies to learning and curriculum for students with special support needs will also be done. The education sector in many parts of the world undermines the needs of disadvantaged students. However, it is against this backdrop that the needs of the challenged students need to be discussed and understood by policymakers.
Literature review approach and theoretical framework
Electronic databases such as ERIC, ProQuest and Medline were searched using desired keywords. The literature search was limited to peer-reviewed journals published over the past 10 years. The literature gathered underwent an initial classification to measure its credibility before adoption. This review highlighted the major theoretical concepts employed in the available studies. This paper found that most of the available research adopted a constructivist approach in explaining how early childhood education impacts on the children. Behaviorists’ views are also discussed as an alternative view to learning.
Mengoni and Oates (2014) suggest that children with special education needs are most likely to be made consumers of information rather than active producers of information. The emphasis is that special education learners have abilities to play an active role in the learning process despite being disadvantaged in various ways. The constructivists’ views hold the assumption that learning falls between the interaction of cognitive and humanistic views.
This scholar suggests that children with special educational needs have cognitive abilities that assist them to understand things. Such learners also manifest social constructivist skills that help create the meaning of events and experiences resulting from social encounters. Therefore, encouraging a child to learn through determining his/her path of knowledge is essential for children in need of special attention. Despite the help needed by these groups of learners, such learners can construct an understanding of their environs based on personal experiences and trial and error. Besides, understanding each child’s abilities is necessary for building adult interactions and teachings. These interactions facilitate bonding between teacher and child, and intensive educational experiences leading to more knowledge and confidence.
On the other hand, the behaviorist approach presents various educational implications for children with additional educational needs. Kumar and Chacko (2010) suggest that learning is attained through external stimuli and experiences. When dealing with children with special education needs, it is important to identify the desired behavior and ensure that the child understands what is expected of them. For example, if a student is experiencing challenges in understanding a certain topic, the teacher should engage the student in extra coaching and request parents for help. Special education can also be provided if classroom inclusion leads to more demand for extra help.
Controversies in understanding students with special needs
Following the introduction of additional support programs for learning in the United States, the definition of children with special needs now incorporates all children who experience barriers in learning under whichever circumstances (Lee, Yeung, Tracey, & Barker, 2015). This wider definition has implications for incorporating findings on the identification and intervention for students with special learning needs.
A research work by Kumar and Chacko (2010) suggests that various agencies such as European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (EADSNE) have to collect comparable data, evaluate definitions and discuss policy variations across countries. These agencies have found comparisons hard since the interpretations differ within countries. Perry (2007) discusses such comparative challenges and identifies that additional support consideration is limited in some nations to students with physical disabilities. This scholar further notes that other countries extend special learning needs to socially disadvantaged students, those from the minority ethnic groups or those whose first language is not English.
Similarly, Kumar and Chacko (2010) sought to examine the aspects that influence patterns of definition and placement of students with special educational needs. Different researchers provide varying solutions to the identification and placement of students with special needs. For instance, Lee et al. (2015) claim that standard grade as proposed by some policymakers is too difficult for some students with additional educational needs.
However, personalized educational programs are widely viewed as a means for identifying goals for students with special educational needs. Current research regarding the need for special learning claims that most students with additional educational needs do not necessarily need unique teaching models. Nonetheless, there is much scholarly literature defining the specific models that are essential for students with specific disabilities. For example, Perry (2007) holds that students with complex learning challenges require intensive and interactive teaching approaches, that facilitate interpersonal and communication skills.
According to Mengoni and Oates (2014), parents play a critical role in supporting early identification and assessment. These authors discuss issues regarding early intervention services for children with additional support needs. These authors emphasize on family support and barriers encountered during early intervention services. Parents provide information about children’s ability and their developmental background.
These scholars suggest that collaborative efforts between parents and early childhood educators are essential to support early intervention. Therefore, early support tools should be aimed at parents in a bid to ensure early identification is secured. A similar study by Rous, Teeters, and Buras (2007) reckons these sentiments by claiming that early childhood is a time for cognitive development. That makes it critical to recognize children with special needs early enough in a bid to offer reliable services. This study identifies the family as an important entity that can help in initiating intervention services upon identification and assessment.
According to Perry (2007), classroom inclusion is more of a law than preference. This scholar argues against this backdrop by showing that students should be allowed to study in a less restrictive setting where s/he feels comfortable. This scholar identifies the need to make informed choices before the placement is done to ensure that students with mere challenges and those who can successfully develop in the mainstream classroom are not moved for special programs. Various studies have identified that inclusive education has more benefits as opposed to separate classrooms.
The instructional approaches and the classroom environment seem to posit more influence on student cognitive and social progress. Therefore, students should not be restricted to a single environment in a day. For instance, during physical education, students with special needs should be allowed to join the general education group and return to their respective academic settings during lessons. On the other end, Perry (2007) affirms that categorical learning programs undermine the needs of children with special learning needs. She stresses that the available inclusion system does not meet the needs of the disadvantaged group. Ideally, these views do not underrate the significance of inclusion but emphasize inclusion programs that address the needs of the weak students.
Despite the imminent challenges in gathering information through literature review, assessments undertaken for this study reveal fascinating trends in growth in the sector of special educational needs. Most reviews show consistency in advocating for inclusion as opposed to specialized categories. This literature review found that the scope of defining students with special needs is limited to individuals with physical disabilities in most cases, but this trend is changing with time. The role of the family in the identification process is also emphasized as key to addressing the needs of children with additional support needs. Nonetheless, the barriers to ensuring inclusion a success are acknowledged. However, there were no clear findings generated from the literature about the efficacy of mainstream or special education.
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Lee, F., Yeung, A., Tracey, D., & Barker, K. (2015). Inclusion of children with special needs in early childhood education: what teacher characteristics matter. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 35(2), 79-88. Web.
Mengoni, S., & Oates, J. (2014). A tool to record and support the early development of children including those with special educational needs or disabilities. Support for Learning, 29(4), 339-358. Web.
Perry, D. (2007). A missed opportunity: categorical programs fail to meet the needs of young children and their caregivers. Journal of Early Intervention, 29(2), 107-110. Web.
Rous, B., Teeters, C., & Buras, S. (2007). Strategies for supporting transitions of young children with special needs and their families. Journal of Early Intervention, 30(1), 1-18. Web.