everyday situations. Interpretations of positive findings on one measure cannot be used to make blanket declarations of “recovery” from autism.
There is substantial data, particularly with older children and adolescents, that behavioral interventions, particularly those with attention to generalization, can result in improved adaptive behavior in children with autism. Adaptive goals are a significant part of both home and school programs for young children. Although general measures of adaptive behavior may indicate increasing discrepancies from normal development with age, the potential to make practical changes in the lives of children with autistic spectrum disorders through teaching specific skills that have value in the community (e.g., toilet training, pedestrian safety) or for the child (e.g., dressing) is very clear, not only for their own sakes, but also because of the increased opportunities they offer. Teaching adaptive skills, with specific plans for generalization across settings, is an important educational objective for every young child with autism. This objective includes teaching behaviors that can be accomplished within a year and that are anticipated to affect a child’s participation in education, the community, and family life.
At this time, the greatest challenge is one of translation from research to practice. Often teachers do not know what is available in the research literature. User-friendly manuals and training resources are needed to ensure the availability of effective instruction in adaptive skills for young children with autistic spectrum disorders to teachers and parents.