Home » Publications » The Role of Theory in Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention

The Role of Theory in Early Childhood Special Education and Early Intervention

Odom, S. L.
from "Handbook of Early Childhood Special Education"

available here

From the abstract: "In early childhood special education and early intervention, a variety of theories influence practices. Behaviorism, constructivism, sociocultural theory, and maturationist theory, all from psychology, all have contributed to understanding children’s learning and development. In addition, the field of sociology has contributed theory on social integration and, along with systems theory, has provided insights about how families operate as systems and how children with disabilities may affect the family. All of these theories influence practice and policy in early childhood special education and early intervention. Researchers translate theory into practice through their applied scientific examinations of the efficacy of interventions and identification of evidence-based or recommended practices. Practitioners may choose to follow a single theory (e.g., a behavioral or constructivist program), or they may draw from multiple theories in designing programs for young children with disabilities and their families. When following the latter approach and selecting carefully practices that are evidence based, practitioners follow a “technical eclectic” form of practice that is firmly based on science and professional judgment and also informed by theory."

About Handbook of Early Childhood Special Education: "This handbook discusses early childhood special education (ECSE), with particular focus on evidence-based practices. Coverage spans core intervention areas in ECSE, such as literacy, motor skills, and social development as well as diverse contexts for services, including speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and pediatrics. Contributors offer strategies for planning, implementing, modifying, and adapting interventions to help young learners extend their benefits into the higher grades. Concluding chapters emphasize the importance of research in driving evidence-based practices (EBP)..." read more

See also Taking Stock and Moving Forward: Implementing Quality Early Childhood Inclusive Practices and Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Early Childhood Classroom Settings


Odom, S. L. (2016). The role of theory in early childhood special education and early intervention. In B. Reichow, B. Boyd, E. Barton, & S. Odom (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood special education (pp. 21-36). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.