Monday, January 2, 2012

Two-Year-Olds With Autism Having Fun? Horrors!

I just finished writing a draft of a research article that ends as follows:

In the classroom observed in this study, incidental teaching, an evidence-based method , was the primary intervention method. But perhaps it was not implemented with as much intensity as it should have been. Programs should ensure teachers receive systematic, checklist-based feedback to increase their rate of incidental teaching, and future studies should compare a variety of meaningful outcomes between intensive, one-on-one intervention sessions and well-implemented incidental teaching in inclusive environments, with 2-year-olds with autism. Because of the age of these children, it might be more effective to teach them by dispersing trials through the day than massing them in drill sessions. Furthermore, the children might have more fun—a value minimized in the desperate discourse about educating very young children with autism.

Sometimes, it's hard to tell whether a little kid with autism is having fun, but if he or she is engaged (busy, absorbed, meaningfully participating in what's going on around him or her) it's a pretty good sign. Let's not rob toddlers of what should be a fun time in their lives, just because we're too unimaginative to figure out how to teach them through play.