identified on the basis of theory, empirical reports, and consensus across representative programs—rather than to attempt any ranking of specific programs.
There are several related areas the committee hoped to address but, because of limited resources and time, did not. Two issues we did not address are the feasibility and costs of various programs and treatments. Because feasibility and cost-effectiveness formulations involve not only short-term costs to school systems but also short- and long-term costs to health systems and society as a whole, and this information and its analysis are not readily available, it was felt that it would be inappropriate for us to analyze these questions in a superficial way. However, this information is much needed. We were also interested in more directly addressing ways of implementing the changes we recommended, but we were unable within the constraints of this project to acquire sufficient information and expertise about strategies for educational change. Because discrepancies in the kind of programs provided are so great across the United States (Hurth et al., 2000; Mandlawitz, 1999), questions concerning implementation are also crucial.
The report is organized according to relationships among issues that, the committee believes, represent the key areas pertaining to educational interventions for young children with autism. Part I addresses the general issue of goals for children with autistic spectrum disorders and their families. Within Part I, Chapter 2 describes how autistic spectrum disorders are diagnosed and assessed and prevalence estimates, Chapter 3 considers the impact on and the role of families, and Chapter 4 discusses appropriate goals for educational services.
Part II presents the characteristics of effective interventions and educational programs. Chapters 5 through 10 discuss fundamental areas of development and behavior that must be addressed by such programs: communication; social, cognitive, sensory and motor development; and adaptive and problem behaviors. Chapter 11 analyzes the characteristics of representative instructional strategies, and Chapter 12 analyzes the features of ten model comprehensive programs and approaches to intervention.
Part III examines the policy and research contexts within which interventions are developed, implemented, and assessed: Chapter 13 presents an overview of public policy and legal issues pertaining to education for children with autism, Chapter 14 addresses the needs for personnel preparation to implement policies, and Chapter 15 identifies the experimental design and methodological issues that should be considered by future researchers in educational interventions for children with autism.