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State Guidance Documents for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Content and Comparison

Coakley, Tom MPA

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181d5c3b9

The dramatic increase in the identification of young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) beginning in the 1980s presented many challenges to State Education Agencies responsible for Special Education for school aged children and State Part C Lead Agencies responsible for Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers under the IDEA. This expanding population was being identified at younger ages and required intensive treatment by qualified personnel, straining system capacity. As part of their efforts to provide evidence based, comprehensive, accessible, and effective services for these children, many states have developed guidance documents about ASD for their early childhood systems. A review and comparison of nine of these documents shows them to have many differences in focus and content, even though they have similar intent. Further inquiry is required to understand the impact of these documents have had in meeting the needs of young children with ASD.

Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Corresponding Author: Tom Coakley, MPA, Housatonic Community College, 900 Lafayette Blvd, Bridgeport, CT 06604 (

©2010Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.