Each child’s program consists of observable and measurable goals, which are taught through systematic trial sequences. Program changes are determined by ongoing data collection and analysis. The initial focus of therapy is on developing basic skills of attendance, compliance, and imitation. Once the child is responding to the therapist’s requests and attending to the activities, additional program goals in the areas of functional communication, social skills, play and leisure skills, higher level of compliance, and daily living skills are introduced. The program is individualized for each child based on functional behavioral assessments and family needs. A combination of structured teaching and play based strategies such as Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT) are used to achieve higher levels of motivation and success.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is a behavioral treatment intervention based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and is derived from the work of Koegel, Schreibman, Dunlap, Horner, and other researchers. It is a composite of the research on task interspersal, direct reinforcement, and role of choice. Key pivotal behaviors have been identified for children with autism: motivation and responsivity to multiple cues (Koegel & Koegel). PRT has demonstrated positive changes in these “pivotal behaviors” exhibiting widespread effects on many other behaviors associated with language and social interaction. Pivotal Response Training (PRT) provides a guideline for teaching skills and has been most successful for language, play, and social interaction skills in children with autism.
There has been an extensive amount of research describing the benefits of early intensive behavioral intervention strategies (e.g., Dawson, 2008). The goal of early intensive intervention is to target the underlying learning-to-learn skills that contribute to the achievement of developmental milestones during early stages of child’s development. Additionally, these skills will facilitate achieving developmental milestones occurring later on in the child’s program, hence decreasing developmental gaps and bringing the child closer to its chronological developmental stage. The FCDS early intervention program focuses on ABA play based strategies and teaching the child learning readiness skills such as attending, making choices, joint attention, following instructions, and imitation of actions or movements. Parents are an integral part of our early intervention program. They are taught specific skills on how to motivate their child to learn. ABA based strategies have been shown to be effective in teaching new skills (Goldstein, 2002, Odom et al., 2003, McConnell, 2002). In addition, many studies demonstrate that ABA is effective in reducing problem behaviors (Horner et al., 2002). A number of studies also indicate that when implemented intensively (more than 20 hours per week) and early in life (beginning prior to the age of 4 years), ABA may produce large gains in development and reductions in the need for special services (Smith, 1999). Recent research has resulted in the development of better early intervention and treatment programs. More importantly early intervention can make a major difference in helping children with autism reach their full potential.
Parent involvement and education is an integral part of the behavior intervention program to ensure consistency in delivery of ABA strategies and to help their child succeed. Parent participation provides an empowering experience and a higher level of motivation for the family to make the necessary changes. Family involvement allows for a more accurate assessment of their needs and establishment of attainable goals and objectives. The in home parent education program is designed to teach parents antecedent based, teaching, and consequence based strategies that are derived from the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Parents will be involved in program goal setting and use of strategies through daily routines for skill acquisition and behavior reductions, as well as maintenance and generalization. The ultimate goal is to leave the family with basic ABA tools and strategies they need to teach their child new and functional behaviors while reducing the undesired ones.
Parents who participate in the “16″ hour parent education program will be receiving behavioral services for their children in the near future. It is therefore crucial for them to have a basic understanding of concepts that might be introduced during the course of an assessment and a behavior intervention program. During the “16″ hour program parents will have an opportunity to gain an understanding of the underlying philosophy of applied behavior analysis (ABA). The basic premise behind antecedent, behavior, and consequence (ABC) analysis, the importance of functional assessment, and introduced to the possible intervention strategies that might be applied during the course of a behavior intervention program offered to their children.
Our Goals
  • Create Individualized Programs to Meet the Specific Needs of the Child
  • Make the Family the Focus in Developing Intervention Plans
  • Implement Quality Assurance through Ongoing Data Collection and Analysis
  • Use Research Based Intervention Strategies
  • Maintain Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity
  • Apply a Collaborative Team Approach in Assessment and Intervention
  • Sustain a Positive Outlook and a Holistic Approach in Assessing Resources and Needs
  • Provide Community Based Comprehensive Services
Foothill Child Development Services utilizes research based strategies derived from the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Our priority is skill acquisition in the areas of social interaction, functional communication, and self help/adaptive skills. Each program is individualized to meet the needs of the family and the child. Program modifications are based on the child’s level of functioning and progress and/or lack of it. Positive behavior support programs are written based on the principles and techniques of Applied Behavior Analysis and include a combination and a range of ABA methodologies. Antecedent control strategies and environmental modifications are applied in order to be proactive. Functional communication is taught to decrease maladaptive behaviors and facilitate parent/child relationships. Behavior reduction techniques are applied only when inappropriate behaviors become hindering factors in skill attainment and/or are sources of imminent threat to the well being of the child or others. A combination of structured teaching and play based strategies are used to achieve higher levels of motivation and success. Natural reinforcers are preferred to avoid application of tangibles, unless absolutely necessary. Tangible reinforcers are faded as soon as possible. Maintenance and generalization procedures are applied for all the behavior goals and acquired skills.
Maintenance and Generalization

An important aspect of the intervention is to assist the family with strategies to decrease inappropriate behaviors, and to put emphasis on skill acquisition. It is important to embed the proposed strategies across a variety of routines, such as free time/leisure activities in the home as well as during more structured activities.
Upon reaching a desired level of progress for each behavior objective, opportunities should also be given for performance of the newly acquired skills across a variety of settings and individuals outside the home, such as social functions and community outings to generalize the learned behaviors.
Once alternate behaviors are established through the use of continuous reinforcement, the reinforcement schedules are thinned to an appropriate intermittent schedule depending on the type of reinforces being used and the level of progress achieved. Focus is placed on the use of natural reinforces, in which the reinforcement is related to the behavior being taught, such as access to item/activity upon performance of the appropriate behavior or request.

Services can be provided in English, Spanish, Armenian, Farsi,
German, Assyrian, Russian, Tagalog, Mandarin, and Cantonese..
Systematic reviews of scientific studies:
  • Goldstein, H. (2002). Communication intervention for children with autism: A review of treatment efficacy. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 373-396.
  • Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Strain, P. S., Todd, A. W., & Reed, H. K.(2002). Problem behavior interventions for young children with autism: A research synthesis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 32, 423-446.
  • McConnell, S. (2002).Interventions to facilitate social interaction for young children with autism: Review of available research and recommendations for educational intervention and future research. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 351-372.
  • Odom, S. L., Brown, W. H., Frey, T., Karasu, N., Smith-Canter, L. L., & Strain, P. S. (2003). Evidence-based practices for young children with autism: Contributions from single-subject design research. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 166-175.
  • Smith, T. (1999). Outcome of early intervention for children with autism. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6, 33-49.
  • United States Surgeon General (1998). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: Author.
Position statements from professional organizations:
  • Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC). (1999). Report of the MADSEC autism task force (revised ed.). Manchester, ME: Author.
  • New York State Department of Health, Early Intervention Program. (1999). Clinical practice guideline: The guideline technical report. Autism/ pervasive developmental disorders, assessment and intervention for young children (Age 0-3 Years). Albany, NY: Author.
  • Maurice, C. Green, G., & Luce, S. C. (Eds.). Behavioral intervention for young children with autism: A manual for parents and professionals. (pp. 45-67). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
  • Maurice, C., Green, G., & Foxx, R. (Eds.). Making a difference: Behavioral intervention in autism. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.