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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 5, Lesson 1

Activity #3

Print a copy of the following two documents from the Resource Bank for use in the exercise below.

Family Characteristics within a Cultural Framework

Understanding Family Characteristics

  1. Read the descriptions of some features of four minority cultures in the United States.
  2. Choose two of the four cultures featured that are different from your own.
  3. Think about how families from these cultural groups would view a child born with Down syndrome.
  4. Think about how you would feel if a child with Down syndrome were born in your family.
  5. Complete the chart listing Family Characteristics, Personal Characteristics, and Special Challenges. Complete the columns with illustrations from your own family and then for each of the two families you have chosen.
  6. What would you need to be aware of in order to work effectively with these parents?

Lesson 1 Highlights

This lesson focused specifically on families in the Early Steps system. We examined the concept of why families should be viewed by professionals as experts with regard to their children. We discussed family systems theory, components that make up families and the effect of cultural perspectives on families' views of disabilities and interactions with professionals. Finally we looked at families from a strengths-based perspective.


Department of Health (2005). Early Steps service delivery policy and guidance: Delivering service in the routines and daily activities of children with disabilities and their families. Florida Department of Health-Children's Medical Services-Early Steps. Tallahassee, FL.

Diamond, K.E., & Kontos, S. (2004). Families- resources and accommodations: Toddlers with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Developmental Delay. Journal of Early Intervention, 26(4), 253-265.

Hendriks, A.H.C., DeMoor, J.M.H., Oud, J.H.L., & Savelberg, M.M.H.W. (2000). Perceived changes in well-being of parents with a child in a therapeutic toddler class. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 21(6), 455-469.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997. 1997. Public Law 105-17. 105th Congress.

Kalyanpur, M., & Harry, B. (1999). Culture in special education: Building reciprocal family-professional relationships. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing.

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York: Macmillan.

Lessenberry B.M, & Rehfeldt, R.A. (2004). Evaluating stress levels of parents of children with disabilities, Exceptional children, 70(2), 231-244.

Lin, S. (2000). Coping and adaptations in families of children with cerebral palsy. Exceptional Children, 66, 201-218.

Lynch, E.W., & Hanson, M.J. (Eds.) (1998). Developing cross-cultural competence: A guide for working with children and families. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing, 492.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. (2001). Public Law 107-220. 107th Congress.

Reyes, E.I. (1999). Parents, families and communities ensuring children's rights. Bilingual Review, 24(1-2), 49-56.

Sileo, T. W., Sileo, M., & Prater, M.A. (1998). The role of parents in the education of children with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(1), 8-13.

Smith,T.M., Oliver, M.N.I., & Innocenti, M.S. (2001). Parenting stress in families of children with disabilities. American journal of Orthopsychiatry, 71, 257-261.

Snow, K. (2001). Disability is a natural. Woodland Park, CO: Braveheart Press.

Turnbull, A., & Turnbull, R. (2001). Families, professionals, and exceptionality: A special partnership. Lower Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Vacca, J. & Feinberg, E. (2000). Why can't families be more like us?: Henry Higgins confronts Eliza Doolittle in the world of early intervention. Infants and Young Children, 13(1), 40-48.

Ulrich, M.E., & Bauer, A.M. (2003). Levels of awareness: A closer look at communication between parents and professionals. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 35(6), 20-24.

Related Resources

Dunst, C.J. (2002). Family-centered practices: Birth through high school. The Journal of Special Education, 36(3), 139-147.

Sandall, S., McLean, M., & Smith, B. (Eds.) (2000) DEC Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education. Division for Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children


  • American Association for Home Based Early Interventionists - An organization that serves families and those working in the field of early intervention with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with special needs with an emphasis on the home as a beneficial environment for early intervention. The site includes information and linkages for families and professionals.
  • CADRE - Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education - A National Center on Dispute Resolution funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs. Specifically designed to address dispute resolution, mediation and collaborative strategies to resolve disagreements in special education and early intervention.
  • Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) - Early Childhood Research Institute - Identifies, evaluates, and promotes effective and appropriate early intervention and preschool practices for children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The site includes a resource bank for effective materials and strategies.
  • Fiesta Educativa - Works to educate Latino families in obtaining services and in caring for their children with special needs. The site provides information, training, technical assistance, and referral services.
  • Hmong Homepage - Provides online community and organization resources, translation services, history and demographic data, referrals, and links to publications.
  • National Center for Fathering - Provides research and resources on fathering, practical tips and suggestions. The site includes a many helpful hints on fatherhood and education.
  • National Multicultural Institute (NMCI) - Addresses issues of multiculturalism. The site attempts to increase communication, understanding, and respect among people from diverse backgrounds.
  • The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities - National information and referral center that provides information on disabilities and disability-related issues for families, educators and other professionals including collaboration.


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