Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


Behavior Interventions, Infants and Toddlers


There is a limited understanding of the practices provided by interventionists under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part C, and there is no knowledge of how providers deliver services for children who have challenging behaviors. In particular, few studies have examined the extent to which Part C interventionists use evidence-based practices. Decreasing occurrences of challenging behaviors in early childhood is particularly important, as there are many negative ramifications associated with untreated challenging behaviors, including troubled peer and adult relationships, academic failure, and increased antisocial behaviors in adulthood. Research has shown that Positive Behavior Supports and the Pyramid Model are empirically supported frameworks for treatment of challenging behaviors among young children. Thus, interventionists should be utilizing PBS when serving young children with challenging behaviors.

The purpose of this study was to gain a preliminary understanding of Part C interventionists’ knowledge and understanding of evidence-based practices for young children with challenging behaviors and to identify interventionists’ process of intervention identification and implementation. Also examined were the challenges associated with service-delivery and the role of Part C in alleviating such challenges. This understanding was gained through semi-structured interviews with a sample of 10 interventionists who served young children with challenging behaviors. A thematic analysis resulted in 15 themes and two subthemes. In addition, interventionists were evaluated using a 4-point rating scale, which provided additional insight regarding the level of evidence-based practice utilized by interventionists. Themes and ratings revealed interventionists have a limited understanding of best practice associated with identifying appropriate evidence-based interventions for young children with challenging behavior. Moreover, a number of barriers hindered consistent implementation of behavioral interventions. Results indicated a need for a wider scale study of Part C interventionists’ practices. In addition, results demonstrated a critical need for ongoing professional development for Florida Part C interventionists.