Behavioral Intervention

Project ImPACT

Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers) is an evidence-based parent coaching program that teaches parents of very young children (ages 12-24 months at intake) to promote their child’s social-communication skills during daily routines and activities. Behavioral therapists work directly with the parents and child together in individual sessions, typically during two 1.5 hour sessions per week for 12 weeks. Project ImPACT uses a blend of developmental and naturalistic behavioral intervention strategies to teach social engagement, language, imitation, and play and has been adapted for use with infants and young toddlers. Developmental techniques are taught first to promote parent responsiveness and improve social reciprocity. Naturalistic behavioral techniques are taught next as a way of teaching specific language, imitation, and play behaviors.

What To Expect

Sessions begin with a parent interview, assessments of the toddler’s skills and an observation of parent(s) and child playing together. The therapist and parent(s) work together to develop goals and choose appropriate intervention strategies. Therapists then model the strategies and provide parents with opportunities to practice these strategies and receive feedback while in the clinic. Parents are provided with concrete ideas for using the techniques at home.

Each of our therapists has a doctoral or master’s degree and extensive experience working with children with autism and other behavioral challenges and their families. They are all highly trained in the intervention techniques used in Project ImPACT. Therapists are supervised by Drs. Aubyn Stahmer & Lauren Brookman-Frazee, both clinical psychologists with extensive experience conducting clinical work and research in evidence-based intervention strategies.

Parent-Child Developmental & Behavioral Therapy

Parent-Child Developmental and Behavioral Therapy is designed to help parents facilitate social interaction, play, language and appropriate behavior in their children. Behavioral therapists work directly with the parents and child together in individual sessions, typically one hour a week for 12 weeks. Specific strategies are individualized based on the needs of the child and family. Common intervention strategies that may be implemented include: Pivotal Response Training, DIR/Floortime, Picture Exchange Communication System, positive behavioral support, functional analysis, visual support strategies and other developmentally appropriate strategies.

What To Expect

Sessions begin with a parent interview, assessments of the child’s skills and an observation of parent(s) and child playing together. The therapist and parent(s) work together to develop goals and choose appropriate intervention strategies. Therapists then model the strategies and provide parents with opportunities to practice these strategies and receive feedback while in the clinic. Parents are provided with concrete ideas for using the techniques at home.

Each of our therapists has a doctoral or master’s degree and extensive experience working with children with autism and other behavioral challenges and their families. They are all highly trained in each of the intervention techniques used in our program. Therapists are supervised by Dr. Aubyn Stahmer, a clinical psychologist with almost 20 years of experience conducting clinical work and research in evidence-based intervention strategies.

Click here to see what parents who have participated in PC-DBT have to say about the program!

Intensive Behavioral Therapy

This program is designed for children ages 3-10 with autism and severe behavior challenges (i.e. aggression, property destruction, self-injurious behavior, non-compliance, eloping, etc.) and includes both intervention for the child and coaching for parents and other caregivers. Treatment is individualized based on child and family needs, but typically involves intervention strategies based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, specifically involving Positive Behavior Support and Pivotal Response Training techniques to address severe challenging behaviors and skill development. These procedures are research-based and effective at reducing challenging behaviors.

Caregivers are provided with a written Functional Behavior Assessment Report and Behavior Intervention Plan. In some situations, an evaluation by a developmental pediatrician, neurologist or psychiatrist may be recommended or can be provided if families are interested.

Program Schedule

Initial Evaluation. In order to determine the appropriate intensity and duration of the intervention, an intake evaluation will be conducted by a behavior specialist. The evaluation will include a review of previous assessment information, an interview with parents and other caregivers, and behavioral observation of the child, including a functional analysis of the child. The initial evaluation typically consists of approximately three hours of interview and observation, and will include a functional assessment and the development of specific goals for the intervention and an initial behavior intervention plan.

Intervention. The program schedule is individualized based on family needs and assessment results. Data will be collected at home and in the clinic to examine treatment progress and make adjustments to the behavior plan.

Follow-up. Once the behavior is under control and caregivers have an understanding of how to implement the strategies learned, the intervention will be complete. The therapist will schedule a follow-up session one month after the intervention is complete to ensure that behavior changes are maintained.

Behavioral Consultation

Behavioral consultation teaches and empowers parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, ages 0-18, to be able to manage difficult problem behaviors. Parents and child meet with a doctoral- or master’s-level behavior support specialist to discuss and apply procedures to improve difficult behaviors and increase appropriate behaviors. Target behaviors may include improving self-help skills, increasing compliance and developing appropriate sleep behaviors. The number of consultation sessions depend on the child’s and family’s needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In cognitive behavioral therapy, children and their parents or caregivers learn a set of skills to help children identify thoughts and feelings that are excessive or not true to a situation, to change those thoughts, and to gradually face the situations that make them feel this way. Each skill builds upon the previous one. Children with autism spectrum disorders increase their confidence as they master previously learned skills and learn to use new skills. Evidence supports using this therapy to teach children with autism spectrum disorders how to overcome anxiety disorders (such as feelings of fear, worry or nervousness), anger and depression. Evidence also supports its use in helping children with autism spectrum disorders to become more independent in their self-care routines and use of social skills. The therapy works best when it is modified for children with autism spectrum disorders and addresses their unique cognitive and behavioral issues.

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves learning and practicing each skill during the therapy session. The skills that are learned and practiced in the therapy session are then assigned as home-based practice for the child to complete. This often requires help from the parent or caregiver, and is an important part of the treatment. The home-based practice helps children with autism spectrum disorders to use their skills in situations causing difficulty for the child and helps them to apply their skills to other situations and places. Additionally, when children with autism spectrum disorders and their parents or caregivers have practiced using these skills at home, it is easier to know how to use them when difficult situations arise naturally and unexpectedly. The ultimate goal is to teach children how to use these skills independently, and parents are taught how to gradually reduce the help they provide.