ity of more traditional neuropsychological assessment batteries in children, especially in young children, is more limited than for adults. Extensive neuropsychological assessments may not provide enough useful information to be cost-effective. However, selected instruments may be helpful in answering specific questions, particularly in more able children. Exploring a child’s visual-motor skills or motor functioning can be of value for some children whose learning and adaptation appear to be hindered by deficits in these skills. (Motor and visual motor skills are discussed in detail in Chapter 8.)
In addition to interventions that have been designed to improve intellectual performance (e.g., scores on IQ tests), there is a small literature on instructional strategies designed to promote the academic performance of young children with autism. Academic performance, for this discussion, refers to tasks related to traditional reading and mathematics skills. This literature consists primarily of single-subject design, quasi-experimental design, and descriptive observational research, rather than randomized clinical trials. The studies have usually included children with autism at the top of the age range covered in this report (i.e., ages 5–8), and the participant samples often include older children with autistic spectrum disorders as well. Notwithstanding these caveats, there is evidence that some young children with autistic spectrum disorders can acquire reading skills as a result of participation in instructional activities. There is very limited research on instructional approaches to promoting mathematics skills.
A range of instructional strategies have involved children with autistic spectrum disorders. In early research, Koegel and Rincover (1974) and Rincover and Koegel (1977) demonstrated that young children with autism could engage in academic tasks and respond to academic instruction as well in small-group instructional settings as they did in one-to-one instruction with an adult. Kamps and colleagues replicated and extended these findings on small-group instruction of academic tasks to a wider range of children within the autism spectrum and other developmental disabilities (Kamps et al., 1990; Kamps et al., 1992).
In another study, Kamps and colleagues (1991) first performed descriptive observational assessment of children with autism in a range of classroom settings. They used these data to identify the following commonly used instructional approaches:
Incorporate naturally occurring procedures into intervention groups across classrooms.
Include three to five students per group.