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Inclusive Programming For Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders

A. Stahmer, B. Ingersoll
Published 2004 · Psychology

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The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 mandated the provision of interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) under the age of 3 years. Although Strain, McGee, and Kohler (2001) suggested that children with autism benefit from inclusive programming, inclusive early intervention programs are rare. In the current study, the authors used a quasi-experimental design to analyze the outcomes for 20 young children with ASD in an inclusive program for children under age 3. Both outcomes on standardized assessments and functional outcomes were compared at program entry and exit. Significant increases in standard scores were found for the standardized assessments from intake to exit, with 37% of the children functioning in the typical range at exit, compared to 11% at entry. Significant improvements in performance on functional measures were also seen. At intake, 50% of the study participants had no functional communication skills, whereas at exit, 90% used a functional communication system. Social and play behaviors also increased substantially. Use of augmentative communication systems and a combination of research-based programming are discussed.
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