Children with autism are placed in a variety of classroom settings including self-contained rooms with children with other disabilities and inclusive rooms with typically developing peers. These researchers analyzed the language environment of three types of preschool classrooms and children’s language during free play. They found that children in inclusive classrooms spent more time producing speech than those in mixed disability classrooms, even when taking into account differences in children’s profiles. They also found that peers spent more time directing speech toward children with autism in inclusive classrooms than autism specific classrooms; however, the frequency was low across all classrooms and was related to children’s individual profiles. There were no classroom differences in the percentage of time teachers directed speech toward the children. These results suggest that both individual characteristics and classroom composition may influence preschoolers’ social language environment.
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