addressed. Much more important than the name of the program attended is how the environment and educational strategies allow implementation of the goals for a child and family. Thus, effective services will and should vary considerably across individual children, depending on a child’s age, cognitive and language levels, behavioral needs, and family priorities.

Recommendations

The committee’s recommendations for effective treatment are made on the basis of empirical findings, information from selected representative programs, and findings in the general education and developmental literature. In particular, it is well established that children with autism spend much less time in focused and socially directed activity when in unstructured situations than do other children. Therefore, it becomes crucial to specify time engaged in social and focused activity as part of a program for children with autistic spectrum disorders.

4–1

Based on a set of individualized, specialized objectives and plans that are systematically implemented, educational services should begin as soon as a child is suspected of having an autistic spectrum disorder. Taking into account the needs and strengths of an individual child and family, the child’s schedule and educational environment, in and out of the classroom, should be adapted as needed in order to implement the IEP. Educational services should include a minimum of 25 hours a week, 12 months a year, in which the child is engaged in systematically planned, developmentally appropriate educational activity aimed toward identified objectives. Where this activity takes place and the content of the activity should be determined on an individual basis, depending on characteristics of both the child and the family.

4–2

A child must receive sufficient individualized attention on a daily basis so that individual objectives can be effectively implemented; individualized attention should include individual therapies, developmentally appropriate small group instruction, and direct one-to-one contact with teaching staff.

4–3

Assessment of a child’s progress in meeting objectives should be used on an ongoing basis to further refine the IEP. Lack of objectively documentable progress over a 3 month period should be taken to indicate a need to increase intensity by lowering stu-



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