Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: A Comprehensive Developmental Approach to Assessment and Intervention redefines how we work with infants, young children, and their families when mental health, developmental, or learning problems occur.
The authors, who are recognized as the world’s foremost authorities on clinical work with emotional and developmental challenges in the early years of life, demonstrate how to use their well-established and documented DIR (Developmental, Individual-Differences, Relationship-Based) model to work with the full range of infant and early childhood challenges. These include interactive problems, such as infants and young children with anxiety disorders, depression, attachment disorders, attentional problems, trauma, and elective mutism; regulatory-sensory processing problems, including infants and young children who are overresponsive and fearful, underresponsive and self-absorbed, sensory craving and overly active and aggressive, as well as those who have difficulty with planning and coordinating action; and neurodevelopmental disorders of relating and communicating, including infants and young children with autism spectrum disorders and other severe developmental challenges.
Greenspan and Wieder show how these mental health and developmental challenges can be classified according to each child’s unique emotion, cognitive, language, and sensory processing profile. Most importantly, they demonstrate and present their new data on the most effective ways of intervening with these challenges, demonstrating how even children with the most severe mental health and developmental problems can make more progress than formerly thought possible in learning to relate, communicate, and think meaningfully and adaptively.
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is divided into four parts: Part I presents the DIR model, including how biology and experience come together at each developmental stage to shape a child’s relative mastery of the six core developmental capacities: basic attention and self-regulation; warmth and engagement; two-way, preverbal, purposeful communication and emotional signaling; organization of affective gestures into a continuous flow of problem-solving interactions; the emotional use of ideas in language or in pretend play; and the creation of logical bridges between two or more ideas. Part II focuses on principles of assessment and intervention. It shows how the DIR approach to assessment and intervention harnesses the contributions of psychodynamic, behavioral, and educational approaches but goes beyond these to create a truly developmental, biopsychosocial approach that can identify and tailor interventions to each infant and/or child and family’s unique profile. Part III uses composite case studies to illustrate the principles of clinical evaluation and intervention to describe assessment and intervention strategies appropriate for different classes of infant and childhood disorders, including interactive disorders, regulatory-sensory processing disorders, and disorders of relating and communicating, such as autism. Part IV presents a new model of early identification, prevention, and early intervention that can be used in primary health care, educational, mental health, and developmental programs. The model provides guidelines for parents and other caregivers to help infants and young children master and strengthen basic emotional, language, and cognitive capacities.
For clinicians, researchers, and educators alike, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is simply the definitive resource for working with infants, young children, and their families.