Research Matters

Research Matters

Little Steps

To help treat problem behavior and teach important skills, parents of kids with developmental disabilities in northeastern Kansas have a new option for the care and education of their preschoolers. "Little Steps" is a year-old early childhood intervention program on KU's Lawrence campus that teams children with student teachers who implement individualized programs to improve kids' social, self-care, motor and pre-academic skills.

Episode #76

2 minutes (2.7 MB) | Download mp3


A new program for children with developmental disabilities mixes intervention and scholarly investigation. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

"Little Steps" is a new early childhood intervention program on KU's Lawrence campus founded by professors Claudia Dozier and Pamela Neidert Little Steps focuses on severe problem behavior associated with developmental disabilities. Claudia Dozier.

Claudia Dozier: Problem behaviors interfere with daily living or quality of life. They can be things from physical aggression - hitting, kicking or biting others - to self-injurious behavior like head banging and self-biting. And property destruction, such as throwing toys, throwing over tables and ripping up materials. They also encompass feeding disorders and toileting difficulties.

Program cofounder Pamela Neidert says principles of applied behavioral analysis are used to tailor intervention programs for the preschoolers.

Pamela Neidert: "We look at ways in which children's behavior interacts with their environment. If there's a problem with a behavior, we can figure out why it's occurring and how we can rearrange the environment - meaning we change the type of things that the child is working on or how teachers are interacting with them, such that the behavior has a more socially appropriate outcome."

Research underway at Little Steps includes increasing tolerance of medical examinations; and treatment of pediatric feeding disorders. Dozier says future research will focus on how children move from an early childhood intervention program like Little Steps into regular schooling.

Dozier: "In our program, we don't want to keep kids for a really long time. We want to teach them what they need to know to transition into regular education placement in kindergarten or first grade. We need to know where are they going, what are they expected to know, and how to get them there as quickly as possible.

For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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