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Educating Children with Autism
the ten programs (presented in alphabetical order), and the review that follows it, summarize the similarities and differences across programs.
Children’s Unit at the State University of New York at Binghamton This program was designed in 1975 as an intensive, short-term program (approximately 3 years) for children with severe behavioral disorders. Consistent with the original purpose, the program operates from a deficit-oriented perspective that seeks to identify the factors most crucial in preventing a child from benefiting fully from services in the local community. The program primarily uses traditional applied behavior analysis techniques, although more naturalistic procedures may be implemented as children progress. An elaborate individualized goal selection curriculum has been developed, and there is an extensive computerized assessment and monitoring system (Romanczyk et al., 2000).
Denver Model at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center This program originally opened in 1981 as the Playschool Model, which was a demonstration day treatment program. This developmentally oriented instructional approach is based on the premise that play is a primary vehicle for learning social, emotional, communicative, and cognitive skills during early childhood. The role of the adult and the purpose of play activities vary across learning objectives. The overarching curriculum goals are to increase cognitive levels, particularly in the area of symbolic functions; increase communication through gestures, signs, and words; and enhance social and emotional growth through interpersonal relationships with adults and peers. In 1998, the treatment unit was closed, and the intervention format was changed to the more natural contexts available in home and preschool environments with typical peers (Rogers et al., 2000).
Developmental Intervention Model at The George Washington University School of Medicine As in the Denver Model, this relationship-based approach is derived from a developmental orientation. There is a home component of intensive interactive floor-time work, in which an adult follows a child’s lead in play and interaction, and children concurrently participate in individual therapies and early education programs. Intense floor time sessions at home are aimed at “pulling the child into a greater degree of pleasure.” The curriculum is aimed at six developmental capacities: shared attention and regulation; engagement; affective reciprocity and communications through gestures; complex, pre-symbolic, shared social communication and problem-solving; symbolic and creative use of ideas; and logical and abstract use of ideas and thinking (Greenspan and Wieder, 1999).