By Rachel Forshee
While the value of a quality preschool education is well-documented, what hasn’t been generally recognized is the value of preschool for children with disabilities. That’s why Pasadena is moving on the forefront of the research.
“Children with autism who learn alongside typically developing children are six times more likely to engage in social relations outside of the classroom,” wrote Gary Mangiofico for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “Unfortunately, few opportunities exist at the preschool level for “inclusion” of autistic children.”
At the direction of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, the Los Angeles United Preschool (LAUP) provided $264,000 to the Pasadena Unified School District to develop a “blended-inclusion” program for 32 typically developing 4-year-olds and eight 4-year-old children with autism. LAUP will also invest an additional $152,000 per year through 2012 toward the program.
“We are delighted to have been invited to participate in this unique venture because we believe that all children – regardless of ability, geographic location or socio-economic status – deserve the head start in life that a quality preschool education affords,” wrote Mangiofico.
Gary Mangiofico, Ph.D., is the chief executive of Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit, which funds high-quality preschool for about 11,000 four-year-olds at more than 350 sites in Los Angeles County.