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Children who participate in a quality early childhood education program for at least 600 hours in the year before school are more likely to arrive at school with the social, cognitive and emotional skills they need to engage in learning. Children on the autism spectrum may especially benefit from being in an early childhood education setting as it can provide them with a broader range of activities, experiences and peer relations. However, research shows that children on the autism spectrum often experience barriers to being included in early childhood education and care settings.

How can we best facilitate the inclusion of children on the autism spectrum into mainstream early childhood education settings?

The research

This study is evaluating the effectiveness of Aspect’s Building Tots Early Childhood Development Program.

Launched in 2019, the program is targeting children aged two to four years who show developmental concerns or early signs of autism, but are not yet attending an early childhood education setting. The program provides home-based intervention support for families and facilitates the child to transition into an early childhood education setting.

This research aims to understand if the program is successful in achieving its aims and to investigate the current barriers to quality early childhood education for children with suspected developmental delays or signs of autism.

Making a difference

The findings of this research will help us to understand how playgroups and transition supports can help children on the autism spectrum to transition successfully into early childhood education settings.

Lead researcher

Genevieve Johnsson, Senior Therapy Support, Aspect Therapy (Lead researcher)






The study is funded by the NSW Department of Education under the Disability and Inclusion Program 2019-2021.