Young children with special needs have been the focus of increased attention since the passage of federal legislation, PL 99-457, in 1986. This law is a downward age extension of earlier legislation which guaranteed the provision of special education services in the public schools. One of the many concepts associated with this legislation is early intervention, the provision of services that will both facilitate development and act as a preventative to secondary handicaps that may result if such attention were not provided. The intention of early intervention, therefore, is to mitigate the effects of disabilities or circumstances that put children at risk and thus help prevent underachievement for these children.
While early intervention is frequently defined as the provision of services for children with disabilities (Wolery & Wilbers, 1994), nevertheless “a growing number of authorities in the field of gifted education have pinpointed early benefits of early intervention” (Stile & Hudson, 1993, p. 127) as also essential for young gifted children. Not only is the prevention of underachievement important in the personal lives of gifted children, but also, the effects of this loss of talent are felt at both national and global levels (Butler-Por, 1993; Gallagher, 1991; Marland Commission, 1972; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; Whitmore, 1980).