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An Incidental Teaching Approach To Early Intervention For Toddlers With Autism

Gail G. McGee, Michael J. Morrier, Teresa Daly

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In an effort to move incidental teaching research to practical applications for toddlers with autism, a comprehensive early intervention model was developed for use in the natural environments of a childcare center and children's homes. Based on the premise that social readiness will best be achieved by providing early social learning opportunities, the center based component of the model targets the developmental needs of an inclusive group of children with and without autism. The home based component involves parents of children with autism as key participants in their children's learning and prepares them to be effective advocates in their children's futures. The curriculum addresses what it is that toddlers need to learn, what environmental arrangements provide the most powerful teaching opportunities, and how teachers and parents can most effectively teach children to progress at their optimum pace. Outcome data are presented that documents an impact on the language and social behavior of participating toddlers with autism. Two of the more controversial Walden curriculum components are discussed. Current impediments to system change are considered in the hope that appropriate and effective early intervention may become available to all children with autism.