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Educating Children with Autism
monly associated with autism (e.g., self-stimulatory behaviors, self-injury, echolalia, etc.).
There has been an assumption that behavioral interventions documented as effective in teaching adaptive skills to adults with developmental disabilities will apply equally well to child populations. For example, although written as a commercial self-help guide for toilet training normal children, the procedures in Toilet Training in Less Than a Day (Azrin and Foxx, 1974) involved rather minor modifications of the procedures previously developed for adults in residential settings (Foxx and Azrin, 1973). Similarly, faded guidance procedures that were evaluated for teaching adolescents with disabilities to brush their teeth (Horner and Keilitz, 1975) bear marked resemblance to procedures described for teaching independent daily living skills to toddlers with autism (McGee et al., 1999). In other words, many procedures for teaching self-care skills to adults with mental retardation have been extended to younger children. Yet there have been relatively few direct empirical tests of adaptations to young children with autism. This situation may partially result from the lack of emphasis on publishing systematic replications, as well as from the cost- and time-efficiency of simply using existing procedures that prove to be clinically effective.
DEVELOPMENTAL CONSTRUCTS AND THEORY
An issue of considerable relevance to understanding autism is whether associated impairments are simply developmental delays or developmental irregularities. Pertinent to this question are findings that suggest that children with autism show uneven patterns between developmental domains (Burack and Volkmar, 1992). Depending on how broadly developmental domains are defined, children with autism have also been found to show scatter within certain domains. Specifically, children with autism were found to show deviant and not just delayed development in the social and communication domains represented on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Sparrow et al., 1984), although not necessarily in domains of daily living skills that can be more easily taught (VanMeter et al., 1997).
Several studies have queried parents on the developmental progress of their children with autism. In a survey of 100 parents of children with autism between the ages of 9 and 39 years, 48 percent of the children were still wearing diapers after the age of 3 (Dalrymple and Ruble, 1992). In addition, 25 percent of the parents surveyed reported past or present problems with their children eliminating in inappropriate places, such as outdoors or in the bedroom. Although the average reported age for urine control was 3.85 years and 3.26 for bowel continence, 22 percent of chil-