The Meredith Autism Program (MAP), with the support of the Psychology Department, is expanding its services for young children to offer an inclusion preschool. MAP serves children on the autism spectrum, ages 2-6 years old, for 35 hours per week year-round.
The program’s goal is to make significant changes in the learning patterns of children. In order to best work on social skill development with the children, MAP works on including typical children in the teaching setting when possible. In support of this goal, MAP is opening five slots for typical children ages 3-4 beginning with the Fall 2016 semester.
Inclusive education is beneficial, according to MAP Director Kathryn Dove.
“The goal is for all children and adults to better understand and accept autism — whatever it may look like. Inclusive education has many benefits for children with exceptionalities, including greater language and social skills, and no negative effects for typically developing children,” said Dove.
The expansion to a year-round preschool classroom will provide an enriching, typical social and emotional environment where growing children with autism may learn, as well as provide a small teaching setting where typical children can develop the needed pre-academic skills for kindergarten while also learning how to be understanding support systems for other children.
The expanded program builds on MAP’s previous success operating an inclusive summer “practice preschool” for several years.