Autism: Closing the Gap


The Early Emory Center for Child Development and Enrichment (Early Emory) is a preschool for children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder. When it first opened 30 years ago as the Walden Early Childhood Center, now known as Early Emory, it was founded as an innovative idea in inclusion practices, and has been a model for preschools across the nation.

Amiel and Elise, two Early Emory students—one with Autism Spectrum disorder, and one developing typically—who have become best friends are a testament to the benefits of inclusion in schools.

Michael Morrier, director of child screening, assessment, and behavioral intervention at Emory Autism Center, explains how inclusion helps children with ASD.

“Research shows that kids that are included with their typical age-mates learn social skills better because they have those age-appropriate models,” says Morrier. “Children or teens with autism can really succeed in a typical school environment given the right support.”

Morrier also stresses the importance of testing children early for ASD, and says that early diagnosis gives children more time to learn the skills they have deficits in.

“The gap between what a typical child does at 18 months and what a child with autism does at 18 months is pretty small,” says Morrier. “Trying to close the gap when it’s small is a lot easier than if you try to close the gap when the child gets older.”