Special Education 360

EDSP 360: Introduction to Early Childhood Special Education

Prerequisite: A minimum 2.5 GPA

Credit Hours: (3)

An overview of early intervention and early childhood special education, including legislation, trends and issues; the etiology and characteristics of disabilities and at-risk conditions; factors influencing development and learning; and services for children with special needs from birth to age eight and their families.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Designed to provide an overview of early childhood special education for teachers working with young children. The course will include the study of specific disabilities, including the etiology, characteristics, and classification of common disabilities in young children and related medical aspects of disabilities. The needs of children with the following conditions are addressed: learning disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, speech and language disorders, visual, hearing, health and motor impairments as well as gifted and talented children. Curricular, instructional and environmental modifications, and current legislation, trends and legal issues are covered. The appropriate use of media and technology will be integrated throughout the course.

I. Historical, philosophical and legal bases for early childhood special education.

II. Identification of young children with special needs

    A. The special education process

  1. Screening
  2. referral
  3. assessment
  4. development of IEPs and IFSPs
  5. placement
  6. ongoing evaluation and assessment

    B. Ethnic, cultural, developmental and language considerations

III. General strategies for meeting special needs

IV. Exceptionalities

Each exceptionality will be considered (developmentally delayed, learning disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, speech and language disorders, visual, hearing, health, and motor impairments, and gifted and talented) with emphases on:

  1. Definitions
  2. Etiology
  3. Characteristics
  4. Classification
  5. Program and classroom modifications
  6. Technology

V. Service delivery options and trends:

    A. Home based

    B. Center based

    C. School based

VI. Medical aspects and implications for early childhood special education

VII. Transition to public school and other programs

VIII. Professionalism

    A. Professional organizations

    B. Ethics


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Instructional strategies will include lecture, manipulatives, formal and informal writing, cooperative learning groups, demonstration, discussion, field trip, and audio-visual materials.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Goals, objectives, and assignments in the class address NCATE Standards 1b: Pedagogical content knowledge and skill for teacher candidates and 1g: Professional dispositions for all candidates.  

Objectives below also include the following standards:

  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC/DEC)
    • Common Core Standards
      • Standard 1: Foundations (CC/EC1)
      • Standard 2: Development and Characteristics of Learners (CC/EC2)
      • Standard 3: Individual Learning Differences (CC/EC3)
      • Standard 5: Learning Environments and Social Interactions (CC/EC5)
      • Standard 6: Language (CC/EC2)
      • Standard 7: Instructional Planning (CC/EC7)
      • Standard 8:  Assessment (CC/EC8)
      • Standard 9: Professional and Ethical Practice (CC/EC9)
      • Standard 10: Collaboration
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children Standards
      • Standard 1: Promoting Child Development and Learning
      • Standard 2: Family and Collaboration
      • Standard 5: Becoming a Professional
  • Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Licensure standards      
    • Professional Studies
      • Competency 1: Human growth and development
      • Competency 4: Foundations of education
    • Special Education: Early Childhood (birth through age 5)
      • Competency 1: Nature of disabling conditions
      • Competency 2: Foundations
      • Competency 11: Professionalism


Interdisciplinary Studies Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education (IDEC) competencies identified in the course objectives were developed to organize  standards from six national and state specialty professional areas for which a crosswalk is provided.


Upon successful completion of EDSP 360, students will . . .

1.    Articulate the historical, philosophical, and foundation of the legal aspects of services for children with disabilities ages birth through eight. (IDEC 6.6)

2.    Identify current trends and issues in Early Childhood Special Education. (IDEC 6.6)

3.    Demonstrate knowledge of child growth and development to effectively screen for exceptionalities. (IDEC 1.1)

4.    Identify specific disabilities, including the etiology, characteristics, and classification of learning disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, speech and language disorders, visual, hearing, health and motor impairments. (IDEC 1.1)

5.    Identify factors that affect children’s development and learning and their implications for intervention. (IDEC 1.1)

6.    Recommend referral for health, community health, and social services when necessary. (IDEC 2.3)

7.    Recognize signs of emotional distress in young children, and how to refer for mental health services. (IDEC 6.1)

8.    Demonstrate an understanding of conditions of children, families, and professionals; legal issues and other public policies affecting children, families, and programs for exceptional children and their families. (IDEC 6.6)

9.    Describe and explain the referral process for young children and families. (IDEC 2.3)

10.  Use knowledge of how young children differ in their development and approaches to learning to support the development and learning of individual children, including children with disabilities and special abilities. (IDEC 1.1)

11.  Discuss IEPs and IFSPs. (IDEC 2.3)

12.  Demonstrate qualities to work effectively with children of diverse ages and abilities, and with children reflecting culturally and linguistically diverse family systems. (IDEC 2.2)

13.  Use technology effectively to assist instruction. (IDEC 4.8)

14.  Describe the role of families in assessing and planning for individual children, including children with disabilities, developmental delays, or special abilities. (IDEC 2.3 and 3.1)

15.  Seek opportunities to grow professionally by locating and using appropriate professional literature, organizations, resources, and experiences to inform and improve practice. (IDEC 6.7)

16.  Demonstrate awareness of and commitment to ethical conduct. (IDEC 6.5)


Assessment Measures

Students will…

  • Complete four written exams
  • Write a paper on a current topic in early childhood special education
  • Present findings from the paper
  • Participate in tutoring for the Praxis I assessment
  • Take the Praxis I assessment, if the student pursuing licensure has not already taken and passed the assessment
  • Attend an early childhood conference
  • Key NCATE Performance Assessment: “The Professional Characteristics and Dispositions form will be completed on each student.”


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

Revised May, 2009