A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Spring, 2023 | Number 2, Volume 37

Daycare expulsion rate high for children with autism

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) frequently are expelled from daycare programs due to behavioral issues, according to a new study. 

Jan Blacher and Abbey Eisenhower, who collected data on 203 young autistic children, found that one out of six of the children was expelled from a preschool or child-care setting before reaching elementary school age. The average age at which the children were expelled was 3.3 years. 

Blacher comments, “These little kids were asked to leave school because they demonstrated behaviors directly related to their autism. So, they were being expelled from preschool for the very problems that they needed school for.” 

The researchers say that common characteristics of autism, including repetitive behaviors and difficulty with social communication, may sometimes be misinterpreted as forms of misbehavior. Additionally, they say, teachers may miss children’s non-verbal attempts to communicate their needs, making the children anxious and more prone to temper tantrums. 

Blacher adds, “Many of the expelled children were not identified as having a special need. That suggests to us that it never occurred to the teachers to refer them for assessment…. Had they understood autism, they might have been inspired to deal with it, and say, ‘Maybe I should have this child assessed.’” 

Children were more likely to be expelled from private than public programs, which the researchers say suggests a particular need for policies and practices supporting inclusion in private settings.


Citations

“Preschool and child-care expulsion: Is it elevated for autistic children?” Jan Blacher and Abbey Eisenhower, Exceptional Children, Vol. 89, No. 2, January 2023. Address: Jan Blacher, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, [email protected]

—and— 

“Study finds one of every six autistic children are expelled from daycare,” news release, David Danelski, University of California-Riverside, April 3, 2023.