Inclusive Preschools May Improve Autism Outcomes
By Chelsea E. Toledo, M.A. on December 13, 2012
Background: Since 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has required that states provide appropriate early intervention and special education to children with disabilities. However, little research has investigated what type of preschool placements are best for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
What’s New: A study published in the journal Autism investigated the differences in outcomes when autistic children were placed in preschools serving only children with ASD, in preschools educating children with a variety of disabilities, or in preschools including children with ASD alongside those with typical development. While the 98 children studied were similar based on demographics and level of initial impairment, the 36 who attended inclusive preschools--where they learned alongside children with typical development--showed greater improvement on cognitive test scores than those attending non-inclusive preschools.
Why it’s important: Among those children attending inclusive preschools, those with the most severe social and behavioral deficits but at least baseline communicative skills experienced the greatest improvement. Further research could help define which preschool placements are most appropriate for children across the autism spectrum.
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