probes an average of once or twice per week. The tapes allow tracking of child functioning under conditions in which staff maintains consistent demands and reinforcers. Unique to this model is the family-guided developmental and ecological assessment format, along with systematic tracking of the person-centered planning accomplishments related to the person-centered planning process. As in the more traditional behavioral programs, functional assessments are conducted to develop a plan for reducing significant problem behaviors. In keeping with its community-based emphasis, this approach uses interview and direct observation forms that are more likely to be used in non-research settings than the strict analogue assessment conditions that are described in the research literature (Carr et al., 1994; O’Neill et al., 1997).
To summarize, ongoing assessment of children’s progress is viewed as a hallmark of each of the model programs, although the methods of measurement logically vary with the curriculum emphasis. Virtually all of the model programs assess cognitive functioning, while relatively few directly assess the effects of intervention on a child’s everyday social functioning.
Each of the program models has a custom-designed curriculum, a term used broadly here to refer to the environment, staffing, materials, and teaching interactions. Several of the programs have commercially packaged portions of their curriculum, including the Children’s Unit (Romanczyk et al., 1998), the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based Model (DIR; Greenspan and Wieder, 1998), TEACCH (Schopler, 1995; Schopler et al., 1980, 1983; Watson et al., 1989), and the Young Autism Project (Lovaas et al., 1981). The other models have unpublished program manuals for use in staff training and program replication activities.
Some of the programs make use of other commercially packaged curriculum materials. For example, LEAP uses the Creative Curriculum (Dodge and Colker, 1988) to organize activities of interest to typical children as well as children with autistic spectrum disorders, although these materials are only one component of the overall LEAP curricula (Hoyson et al., 1984).
There are many shared features in these varied model curricula. These points of convergence, as well as some interesting points of divergence, are discussed in the rest of this section.
As described above, the model programs are implemented in a wide