Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children]). In part, these results may be affected by how children are selected for the programs. There is no available empirical evidence that compares the gains made with and without such systems, but the best-documented approaches are uniform in their emphasis on maximizing child participation in educational experiences.


Because young children with autistic spectrum disorders lack social and communicative skills necessary for attending to an adult and learning from distal instruction, it is generally assumed that initial skill development will be accomplished from individual instruction. Providing children with autistic spectrum disorders the language, social, and attentional behaviors needed to learn from an adult in a group situation is, in fact, a goal of early intervention for young children with autistic spectrum disorders.

Delivery of individual instruction episodes can take place in a variety of settings, including situations in which only a child and teacher are present (model of initial instruction at the University of California at Los Angeles program) and situations in which a child is in a typical group setting with a fairly large number of peers, but adults or peers join the child to deliver a discrete trial within the group situation. The various empirically supported models vary widely in the amount of time children are alone in a space with a teacher, compared with the amount of time they are in a group of peers, but these programs are quite similar in the use of individual teaching episodes to establish basic language, social, and cognitive skills.

Appropriate responding in a group situation is a specific part of the curriculum in empirically supported models. Carefully planned and implemented instruction is used to teach children to participate independently in typical classroom routines like hanging up a coat, sitting in a circle with a small group, moving from one center to another, getting materials, using them appropriately, putting them away, and lining up for outdoor time. Instruction in these group routines is usually delivered like other areas of instruction for children with autistic spectrum disorders: the initial teaching is provided with maximal individual instruction and support, and then adult instruction and prompting are gradually faded as the child learns to carry out the routine independently. Task analysis is often used to identify the specific skills involved in classroom routines and to develop teaching strategies.

Visual strategies, like the use of picture schedules and picture communication systems, visually structured independent work schedules, visual organization and cueing of the environment (names on chairs, coat

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