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Behaviorism In Early Intervention

Phillip S. Strain, Scott R. McConnell, Judith J. Carta, Susan A. Fowler, John T. Neisworth, Mark Wolery

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A consistent and persistent devaluation and misunderstanding of behaviorism, the behavioral approach, and its application to early childhood special education exists among many professionals in the field. In this article we explore common criticisms of behaviorism and present reactions. In addition, we identify and describe the critical features of the behavioral approach and their similarities to early childhood special education. Finally, we provide examples of the influence and application of the behavioral perspective in early childhood special education. In the conclusion of this discussion, we assert that the behavioral perspective has contributed substantially to improving the lives of young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. As such, behaviorism has utility in the design and implementation of early childhood special education services.