• plans for transition from preschool classroom;

  • family involvement;

  • identification of and intervention with children with autistic spectrum disorders as early as possible;

  • working with young children in small teacher-to-child ratios, often one to one in the early stages; and

  • active engagement of the child from 20–40 hours per week

Programs that do not include the above features should be reevaluated for suitability before discussing the “suitability” of the disruptive student.

Applied Behavior Analysis

Forty years of single-subject-design research testifies to the efficacy of time-limited, focused applied behavior analysis methods in reducing or eliminating specific problem behaviors and in teaching new skills to children and adults with autism or other developmental disorders. Initially, applied behavior analysis procedures were reactive, focusing on consequences of behaviors after they occurred, and interventions of this type continue to play an important role (see below). However, there has been increasing attention to intervention procedures that focus on what to do before or between bouts of problem behaviors (Carr et al., 1999a; Carr et al., 1994; Schroeder et al., 1986). Since the mid-1980s, applied behavior analysis prevention strategies have focused on antecedent conditions in the child or the environment that set the stage for or trigger the problem behaviors (Carr et al., 1999c); some of these are discussed below in the sections on positive behavioral interventions and supports and functional behavioral assessment.

Interventions that involve changing schedules, modifying curricula, rearranging the physical setting, and changing social groupings have been shown to decrease the likelihood of problem behaviors (Carr et al., 1998; Dunlap et al., 1991, 1993). This has been termed a “shift from viewing behavior support as a process by which individuals were changed to fit environments, to one in which environments are changed to fit the behavior patterns of people in the environments” (Horner et al., 2000:6). Many of these antecedent interventions have been implemented for years by some of the comprehensive, developmental programs described earlier (Mesibov et al., 2000). The broader interest in these antecedents now brings the methodological rigor of applied behavior analysis to directly test the causal relationship between these environmental changes and skill acquisition and reduction in problem behaviors.

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