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Early Intervention Practices for Children With Autism: Descriptions From Community Providers.

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  • 1Anbyn C. Stahmer PhD, is a research scientist at the Child and Adolescent Services Research center and the University of California, San Diego. Her current interests include diagnosis, treatment, and policies for children with autism. Nicole M. Colling, BS, is currently a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her interests are in language intervention and assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Lawrence A. Palinkas, PhD, is a professor and vice chief in the Department of family and preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is a medical anthropologist with expertise in qualitative research methods and interest in social, psychological, and environmental influences on behavior in extreme environments. Address: Aubyn C, Stahmer, Children's Hospital, 3020 Children's Way, MC 5033, San Diego, CA 92123.


Across the country, states are reporting increases in the number of children with autism enrolled in the education system. Although a few specific treatment methods have been established as efficacious for some children with autism in controlled settings, research examining the translation of these treatments into early intervention programs has been minimal. The current study examined provider self-reports of the use of interventions in community settings through focus groups. Providers report the use of both evidence-based and non-evidence-based techniques and indicate that they often combine and modify these techniques based on child, personal, and external factors. Few providers had a clear understanding of evidence-based practice, and all providers reported concerns about adequate training. Implications for early intervention research are discussed.

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