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Comparing cognitive outcomes among children with autism spectrum disorders receiving community-based early intervention in one of three placements

Resource Type: Reports & Papers
Author(s): Nahmias, Allison S.; Kase, Colleen; Mandell, David S.;
Date Issued: April, 2014
Description: Little comparative research examines which community-based preschool intervention placements produce the best outcomes for which children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism-specific placements can provide intensive evidence based care; however, inclusion settings provide interaction with typically developing peers, the importance of which is increasingly recognized. This study examined the association between early intervention placement in three settings (autism-only, mixed disability, or inclusive) and cognitive outcomes upon entry into elementary school in an urban school district for 98 preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorders. Initial child and demographic characteristics were similar among the three placements. Controlling for initial cognitive scores and other covariates, cognitive outcomes for children in inclusive placements were better than those of children in mixed disability settings. A consistent pattern emerged that suggested the particular importance of inclusive placements for children with initially greater social impairments, greater adaptive behavior impairments, and at least a baseline level of language skills. Opportunities to interact with typically developing peers may be particularly beneficial for certain subgroups of young children with autism spectrum disorders. The results provide preliminary insight into important child characteristics to consider when parents and providers make preschool early intervention placement decisions. (author abstract)

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