An investigation of characteristics of programs and services in schools serving individuals with autism spectrum disorders
The first purpose of this study was to identify the characteristics of specific programs that exist in public and/or private schools with a history in treating individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). A second purpose of this study was to assess the differences between actual and ideal levels of ancillary services as perceived by professionals working with individuals with ASD. The third purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between actual and ideal levels of interventions used with individuals with ASD. A survey with four sections was developed. Section I of the survey asked the participants to provide demographic information. Section II had two parts; Part A asked for the ancillary services used in the treatment of individuals with ASD; and Part B asked the participants to provide their point of view about the most effective ancillary services. Section III presented five interventions used in the treatment of ASD as currently defined in professional literature. This section examined the professionals' perceived level of importance and their perceived level of utilization. Section IV was a qualitative question asking the participants to provide their point of view about the most effective intervention used. The sample consisted of 50 participants of Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) members currently employed in the Education Service Center (ESC) at regions 10 and 11 in Texas.
The TCASE members perceived speech and language therapy as the most important and the most frequently used. They also perceived technology therapy as the second most important and most frequently used. The responses indicated that the TCASE members perceived physical therapy as the least frequently used and the least important.
TCASE members agreed in their perceived level of importance and utilization only for the interventions stereotyped patterns; however, there were some agreement and disagreement in their perceived level of importance and utilization of the interventions' social and communication dimensions.
The majority of the respondents preferred Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH). The least preferred interventions were Discrete Trail Training (DTT) and Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI.) Research limitations and further research recommendations were also presented.