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Educating Children with Autism
demonstration projects have disseminated information, yet most have not yet provided appropriate, scientifically rigorous documentation of effectiveness and efficiency. While research in developmental psychology, child psychiatry, and pediatric neurology has become increasingly well integrated, there is a need for more effective communication between professionals in these disciplines and the educators and other professionals who carry out the bulk of treatment and intervention-oriented research.
THE COMMITTEE’S WORK
At the request of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the National Research Council formed the Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism and charged the committee to integrate the scientific, theoretical, and policy literature and create a framework for evaluating the scientific evidence concerning the effects and features of educational interventions for young children with autism. The primary focus of the charge was early intervention, preschool, and school programs designed for children with autism from birth to age 8. The charge included specific suggestions to examine several issues pertaining to education of children with autism: early intervention, diagnosis and classification, the rights of children with autism under IDEA, mainstreaming, and assistive technology.
To carry out its charge, the committee examined the scientific literature; commissioned papers addressing science and policy issues; examined solicited reports provided by leaders of model intervention programs; and conducted two workshops at which researchers, educators, administrators, practitioners, advocates of individuals with autism, and other interested participants presented to the committee information and perspectives on approaches to address the educational needs of children with autism. The committee also solicited and reviewed written statements, provided by individuals and organizations, summarizing their perceptions of the educational needs of young children with autism. The committee also addressed a specific charge to survey the developing field of assistive technology for young children with autism. Thus, the committee’s activities served as a forum for interdisciplinary discussion of theory and scientific research concerning the evaluation of educational needs of, and methods used with, young children with autism.
The committee conceptualized its task as the integration and evaluation of existing information from multiple sources in order to provide recommendations regarding educational policies affecting families with young children with autism. These policies are carried out in school