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EDIE445 Early Intervention for Diverse Learners (Birth to 8 Years)

Unit rationale, description and aim

Special Education is one of the more challenging, dynamic, growing areas of education and is reflected in early childhood, primary and secondary learning contexts with many students with disability and diverse needs requiring high-quality differentiated teaching and personalised learning approaches. Evidenced-based, research-informed scholarly practice is promoted in careful planning, delivering and evaluating universally-designed programs to engage all students in achieving their goals, particularly those often marginalised.

In this unit, pre-service teachers are encouraged to work collaboratively with students, their families and other professionals to build whole-of-community networking, designed to improve each student’s cross-curricula lifelong learning outcomes and wellbeing. The unit will explore trans-disciplinary strength-based and family-centred early intervention approaches for children and young people with a range of needs, such as autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities, learning difficulties and child protection. Through exploring evidence-based practice and current research pre-service teachers will develop expertise in early intervention and transition approaches.

The aim of this unit is to assist pre-service teachers to develop an advanced understanding of early intervention aims, practices and outcomes for children and young people with diverse learning needs. Intervening early to support children in their early years to transition from pre-school to school, from primary to secondary school and into post-school options, has mutual benefits designed to optimise their development and learning across home, school and community contexts. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Apply a broad understanding of the theory of transdisciplinary, strength-based, family-centred early intervention (GA1, GA5, APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 5.5, 6.2, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4. ACECQA A6, A7, D1, D4, D5, E2)

LO2 - Synthesise coherent and advanced knowledge of early intervention applied to specific areas of practice (GA1, GA5, GA8; APST 2.1, 2.4, 3.1, 3.6, 4.1, 4.4. ACECQA A5, A7, A8, B1, B2, B9, C5, D1, D4, D5, F5)

LO3 - Critically analyse and evaluate current early intervention programs, and make recommendations for improvements and smooth transitions (GA5, GA8; APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 3.1, 3.6, 4.1, 4.4; ACECQA A5, A8, C5, D1, E2, F5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

1.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

3.1 Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

4.4 Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.

5.5 Demonstrate understanding of a range of strategies for reporting to students and parents/carers and the purpose of keeping accurate and reliable records of student achievement.

6.2 Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.

7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge:

A. Child development and care

A5. early intervention

A6. diversity, difference and inclusivity

A7. learners with special/additional needs

A8. transitions and continuity of learning (including transition to school)

B. Education and curriculum studies

B1. Early Years Learning Framework

B2. The Australian curriculum

B9. Curriculum planning, programming and evaluation

C. Teaching pedagogies

C5. Catering to children with diverse needs and backgrounds

D. Families and community contexts

D1. Developing family and community partnerships

D4. Socially inclusive practice

D5. Culture, diversity and inclusion.

E. History and philosophy of early childhood

E2. Contemporary theories and practice

F. Early childhood professional practice

F5. Research


Topics will include:

  • Philosophy, legislation and policy underpinning inclusive educational practice; definition, aims and research-informed outcomes of trans-disciplinary, strength-based, family-centred early intervention and transitions. 
  • Early intervention practices for children and young people with complex, multiple or profound disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, intellectual, physical, sensory disabilities and learning difficulties.
  • Current best practice in early intervention and service delivery; National Disability Insurance Scheme; 
  • Diverse approaches to early identification and assessment; development of levels of supplementary, substantial and extensive support in line with the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data;
  • Inclusive and specialised learning and teaching frameworks and approaches; augmentative strategies; teaching students with communication /language disorders theory and research.
  • Legislation, policy, programs and provisions in early intervention, including Disability Discrimination Act, Disability Standards for Education; specialist staff and services;
  • Key issues, including: funding; access to services; misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis; misunderstandings; social rejection; diverse cultural perspectives of disability and parenting; poverty.
  • Useful evidence-based resources and key services to support professional practice and learning.
  • Individualised family service plans and interagency agreements including transition planning.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit. This may involve a combination of online and blended delivery, on a weekly basis across a 12-week semester or in intensive mode. Students should expect to participate in a range of the following: online engagement, lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations and group discussions, both online and live webinars, self-directed study activities and assessment tasks.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to submit and participate in all assessment tasks.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Case Study of an organisation providing early intervention and transition services (note this could be undertaken through review of online information), including description of the organisation and its aims, the specific services provided, eligibility to access services from this organisation, the costs to families or other users (e.g. teachers) to use services, NDIS funding; transdisciplinary and family-centred practices, and other key information. The case study should include transition planning, recommendations for consolidation and improvement and interagency agreements.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Annotated bibliography and recommendations for a specific area of early intervention practice - either an area of service delivery focus such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, or an issue influencing early intervention, e.g. collaborative planning, assessment or promoting skill development.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Allen, K., Cowdery, G., & Johnson, J. (2015). The exceptional child: Inclusion in early childhood education (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Bakken, J. P., & Obiakor, F. E. (2008). Transition planning for students with disabilities: what educators and service providers can do. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas.

Churchill, R., Godinho, S., Johnson, N.F., Keddie, A., Letts, W.J., Mackay, J., et al. (2018). Teaching: Making a difference. (4th ed.). Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons Australia.

Cook, R. E., Klein, M. D., & Chen, D. (2014). Adapting early childhood curricula for children with special needs. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Douglas, S. (2020). Promoting caregiver coaching practices within Early Intervention: Reflection and feedback. Early Childhood Education Journal, 48(1), 21-27.

Dunst, C. (2017). Research foundations for evidence-informed Early Childhood Intervention Performance Checklists. Education Sciences, 7(4), 78.

Faulconbridge, J., Hunt, K., Laffan, A., & EBSCOhost. (2019). Improving the psychological wellbeing of children and young people: Effective prevention and early intervention across health, education and social care. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Flexer, R. W., Baer, R. M., Luft, P., & Simmons, T. J. (2013). Transition planning for secondary students with disabilities (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Hughes-Scholes, C., & Gavidia-Payne, S. (2019). Early Childhood Intervention Program Quality: Examining Family-Centered Practice, Parental Self-Efficacy and Child and Family Outcomes. Early Childhood Education Journal, 47(6), 719-729.

Leadbitter, K., Aldred, C., McConachie, H., Couteur, A., Kapadia, D., Charman, T., & Green, J. (2018). The Autism Family Experience Questionnaire (AFEQ): An Ecologically-Valid, Parent-Nominated Measure of Family Experience, Quality of Life and Prioritised Outcomes for Early Intervention. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(4), 1052-1062.

McLeskey, J., Rosenberg, M. S., & Westling, D. L. (2012). Inclusion: Effective practices for all students (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Overton, T. (2016). Assessing learners with special needs: An applied approach (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

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