An investigation of the sensorimotor development of Down's Syndrome infants involved in an ecologically based early intervention programme: A longitudinal study
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
An ecologically based longitudinal, interdisciplinary early intervention programme was set up for 11 D.S. infants and their families. Bronfenbrenner suggests that if early intervention is to be effective it must use the child's family as an active agent for implementing the programme. Interest for the investigation was generated by current concern with the mainstreaming of handicapped children in ordinary schools, and the necessity for them to acquire the skills which will permit them to benefit from education alongside normal peers. The intervention programme involved a weekly clinic attendance by the child and his/her caregiver at which procedures for stimulating physical, cognitive, language and social growth were demonstrated to the parents. The emphasis was on a parent-professional partnership. The weekly contact also provided opportunities for parents to gain support and understanding from one another as well as to learn about early child development and its relevance for their D.S. infants. The study attempted to evaluate the success of the intervention programme by comparing the intervention sample with a contrast group of four D.S. infants born in Queen Mary Hospital, Dunedin, during a comparable time period, together with a close examination of the way the programme worked for the 11 infants and their families in the intervention group. Assessments included systematic ongoing evaluation of infant progress in conjunction with more objective procedures and contextual information. By using a number of different instruments the study attempted to sample representative behaviours of both-the child and his caregiver. It was possible to show, that for the intervention sample the development of all subjects proceeded in a consistent stepwise pattern from birth to 2 ½ years of age. Although individual differences were apparent during the period of intervention, by the completion of the study all children had acquired mobility and the beginnings of language and personal social skills. Levels of cognitive competence were assessed as being only slightly behind those of normal children. The findings are discussed within an ecological framework as proposed by Bronfenbrenner.