Typological Differentiation Of Children With Developmental Delay Of School Entry Age
The article discusses heterogeneity in a group of children with developmental delay (DD) resulting from the variety of etiological factors that cause this type of mental dysontogenesis. The wide range of DD expression varies starting from conditions close to the age norm up to the ones requiring contradistinction from intellectual disability, which makes it crucial to typologically differentiate the nosological group. The article presents a guideline, developed by the authors, for differentiating DD variants in children with DD around school entry based on the basic characteristics of mental development and behaviour of a child (i.t.) pecularities of the cognitive activity, intellectual performance (self-regulation and goal-directed behaviour), communication during and out of learning activities and cognitive and motivational learning capacity. Three typological variants of DD were identified (A, B, C). A screening program for differentiated school readiness assessment of children with DD has been described. It has been experimentally proven that although having the same nosological diagnosis, children with DD show different typological variants of DD by school entry age depending on the etymology and expression of the delay and on whether children had or had not received preschool intervention services. Of 100 children between the ages of 7-8 affected by DD, the research has revealed a significant difference in the development of those children who had received preschool intervention services as opposed to those who hadn’t (p < 0.05). The obtained diagnostic data make for a better understanding of the «psychological portrait» of children with DD and their learning needs.
Keywords: Children with Developmental Delay (DD)typological differentiationpsychological diagnosticsinclusive education
In regards to the reformation of education for children with limited physical and mental health in its current stage, it is characteristic to mainstream integrative and inclusive learning to allow children with and without disabilities to learn together in the same public schools. The Federal State Educational Standard defines the curriculum and educational conditions for children with health limitations in Russia putting emphasis on heterogeneity in a group of children within each nosological category, which implies a differentiated approach to educational programs and various types of intervention support.
Not only are children with DD the most frequent group compared to other categories of children with health limitations but also the most frequent in inclusive education ( Babkina, 2017a). Moreover, the group of children with DD is characteristic of extreme heterogeneity conditioned by a significant variety of etiological factors causing this type of mental dysontogenesis. Organic and/or functional disorders of the central nervous system, constitutional factors, chronic somatic diseases, disadvantaged early care and childhood living conditions, psychic and social deprivation may occur among the causes of DD ( Babkina, 2016b; Belopolskaya, 2013; Drobinskaya, 2006; Indenbaum, 2012; Korobeynikov, 2002; Korobeynikov & Indenbaum, 2009; Lubovsky, Korobeynikov & Valyavko, 2016; Markovskaya, 1993). All the above makes for a significant delay expression range – from conditions close to the age norms up to the conditions requiring contradistinction from intellectual disability.
Not only does the level of mental development of a child with DD around school-entry age depend on the nature and the expression of underlying disorder (generally due to organic causes) but also on the quality of the previous experience in terms of education and upbringing ( Babkina, 2015; Dmitrieva, 2017). Whereas some of such children are able to learn together with typically developing children of their age, with minor yet mandatory intervention support and special teaching techniques being implemented, the others need consistent and integrated support on a regular basis throughout the learning process (including medical support) ( Babkina, 2016a; Korobeynikov & Babkina, 2017a; Korobeynikov & Babkina, 2017b; Slepovich & Polyakov, 2008; Vilshanskaya, 2008).
Thus, heterogeneity in the group of children with DD requires typological differentiation within the given nosological group to be set. This allows for identification of the variants of DD in children at school entry and tailoring of a best-fit education for every child.
What are the criteria and parameters that provide the basis for typological differentiation of children with DD required for tailoring an optimal educational path and creating special learning conditions?
How does early intervention (support) received by a child with DD at preschool age affect which typological variant of DD the child falls into?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to identify the basic criteria for the classification of DD types and develop a guideline for determining variants of DD in children of school entry age with DD proceeding from the basic developmental and behavioural characteristics of a child in terms of child psychology. The experimental field part of the study is aimed at the assessment of school readiness in children with DD and analysing the impact of early intervention received in preschool age.
A complex of basic research methods typical for psychology for special needs and special education was applied in the study:
analysis of phenomenological expression of DD variants;
method of analytical outlining the basic characteristics of mental development in order to typologically differentiate DD variants;
comparative field experiment on school readiness in children with DD who had received preschool intervention services and in those who hadn't;
quantitative and qualitative experimental data research;
design of educational conditions as a method.
Identifying criteria for typological differentitation of children with DD
Developing a guideline for differentiating the DD types in children was backed by the outcomes of recent studies in clinical psychology and in psychology for special needs (including the authors’ ones) that report on this type of psychic dysontogenesis to vary in range of DD expression in terms of cognitive and learning performance, social and emotional development and behaviour in children with DD ( Babkina, 2015; Belopolskaya, 2013; Dmitrieva, 2017; Drobinskaya, 2006; Indenbaum, 2012; Korobeynikov & Indenbaum, 2009; Markovskaya, 1993).
First, a detailed phenomenological description on the studied group was conducted, including the most probable feature combination of DD and its expression ( Babkina, 2015). Then, the common parametres («
Cognitive activityherein is considered as an assessment of a child’s general intellectual development and traits of his/her cognitive activity. Intellectual performanceis evaluated upon the characteristics of self-regulated and goal-directed behaviour and mental work capacity. Communicationoutlined as phenomenological characteristics is evaluated separately, in and out of the learning environment. Learning capacityis considered as both the original meaning indicating the «zone of proximal development» and as predictive validity - a major forecasting factor for speculation on the most appropriate educational conditions. Moreover, while learning capacity and learning quality are highly likely to be predominantly dependent on the intellectual factors in cases of more pronounced organic brain disorders, in cases of more moderate psychic dysontogenesis of DD type they tend to be mainly dependent on emotional and personal immaturity (given cognitive development within the age norm). Therefore, we consider it reasonable to evaluate separately the cognitive learning capacity and the motivational learning capacity.
Classification of children with DD with differentiated description of the groups
Based upon the generic characteristics of children's mental performance and their behavioural characteristics, three typological variants (types) were identified.
Typologic group A
Typologic group B
Typologic group C
School readiness assessment in children with DD
The program for diagnostic screening test of school readiness in children with DD was developed. It contains 5 sections:
Visual discrimination and spatial intelligence test.
Test for sustained attention and self-regulation.
Test for basic cognitive operations.
General information and language development test.
Learning and cognitive motivation test.
In the special education resource textbook ( by Babkina, 2015) the detailed description of the diagnostic procedures and instructional sequence of methods applied are provided, with the assessment criteria for each method accordingly, text and stimulus materials, questionnaire forms and other documents to fill out (the screening protocols and the psychoeducational evaluation report suggested by a psychologist etc.).
The screening was conducted in Moscow pre-kindergartens (Russia). The research included a sample of 100 preschool children of age 7 y.o. including a subsample of 30 preschoolers attending regular pre-kindergartens and a subsample of 70 preschoolers attending intervention programs (in pre-kindergardens for preschoolers with special needs or in groups for children with special needs in regular pre-kindergartens). The diagnosis «developmental delay» had been verified for all the children.
The major question of the study was how preschool intervention support or lack of it can affect what typological variant of DD a child at school entry age with DD may fall into and how close a child with DD can approach to the age developmental norms due this support.
A typological variant of DD of each child with DD included in the research was identified according to the results of the tests and screening diagnostic upon the basic developmental and behavioural characteristics of a child (Figure
As the diagram shows, children with DD who had received preschool intervention support showed the most favourable variant of DD and consequently the higher level of school readiness. This suggests special upbringing and education conditions with special methods applied be crucial for these children. Not only are intervention support classes a way to prepare children with DD for entry into the school system but also one of the key factors in cognitive activity boosting and mental and personal development improvement. More details on the results of the experimental study can be found in our dissertation ( Babkina, 2017b).
The study has proved that having the same nosological diagnosis children by the school entry age with DD exhibit different variants of DD depending on the etymology and expression of the delay and on whether children had or had not received preschool intervention services.
A typological variant of DD is determined by the basic characteristics of mental development and basic behavioural characteristics of a child identified through psychoeducational tests and medical screening, and serves as a guideline for tailoring an optimal educational path.
In regard to children with mild DD (
In regard to children with moderate DD (
In regard to children with severe DD (
The results of the research make for a better understanding of the «psychological portrait» of a child by school entry age with DD and can aid adjustment and regulation of integrated clinical-psychoeducational diagnostic testing and monitoring of child development.
This research was conducted within the state-sponsored project by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation through the Federal State Funded Research Institute of Special Education of Russian Academy of Education. The authors would like to thank Yulia Melnik for translating the article into English.
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