Evaluating Community Inclusion: A Novel Treatment Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders


  • Natalie J. Webb Naval Postgraduate School
  • Ilene Allinger Candreva Special Kids Crusade
  • Deirdre Hickey-Strum Special Kids Crusade
  • Anke Richter Naval Postgraduate School
  • Todd Dwelle Pediatric Group of Monterey




Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children with Developmental Delays, Inclusion Program, Youth Programs, Social Skills in Community Settings


A state-funded, non-profit organization developed an innovative inclusion program for children with Autism spectrum disorders and developmental delays, Including Special Kids, which offers activities for children with developmental delays alongside typically developing children in collaboration with well-established local youth programs. This case study examines the ISK intervention program at the original community host sites to determine if the evidence supports a measurable and demonstrable change in behaviors in a real-world setting that may lead to increased quality of life and greater inclusion in the community. Using evidence-based data, we measured the progress of 30 children over 6-24 months. Children participating in the program showed average improvement in all but two function areas and improvement in all composite scores. While these results do not prove program success, they offer an indication that the program helps children learn skills and behaviors to successfully navigate and become part of community-based, after-school recreational programs.

Author Biographies

Natalie J. Webb, Naval Postgraduate School

Professor, Economics

Defense Resources Management Institute

Ilene Allinger Candreva, Special Kids Crusade

Program Director

Including Special Kids

Deirdre Hickey-Strum, Special Kids Crusade

Clinical Director

Including Special Kids

Anke Richter, Naval Postgraduate School

Professor, Operations Research

Defense Resources Management Institute

Todd Dwelle, Pediatric Group of Monterey


Member, Board of Directors, Special Kids Crusade






Research Articles