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Inclusion For Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Aubyn C. Stahmer, Natacha Akshoomoff, Allison B. Cunningham

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The present quasi-experimental study examines the outcomes for a group of 102 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 2 who attended an inclusive toddler program (described by Stahmer and Ingersoll, 2004) until age 3. Outcomes on standardized developmental assessments indicate significant improvement, with large effect sizes, in developmental level, adaptive behavior and communication. Thirty-one of the children (31%) were functioning in the typically developing range when they exited the program at age 3, after an average of 8 months of intervention. Predictors of positive outcomes included length of time in the program, level of words and gestures use at entry and higher externalizing and lower internalizing behavior CBCL scores at entry. Implications for serving toddlers with autism in inclusive settings and suggestions for future research directions are discussed.