The IDEA provides states with federal grants to institute early intervention programs. Any child younger than age three who has a developmental delay, or a physical or mental condition likely to result in a developmental delay, is eligible to receive early intervention services through these programs. Early Intervention (EI) services can vary widely from state to state and region to region. However, the services should address your child’s unique needs and should not be limited to what is currently available or customary in your region. The document that spells out your child’s needs and the services that will be provided is the Individual Family Service Program (IFSP). The IFSP should be based on a comprehensive evaluation of your child. It should describe your child’s current levels of functioning and the anticipated goals. It should also list the specific services that will be provided to your child and your family. EI services are aimed at minimizing the impact of disabilities on the development of your child. Services for your child may include but are not limited to, speech and language instruction, occupational therapy, physical therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and psychological evaluation. Services for families may include training to help reinforce the affected child’s new skills and counseling to help the family adapt. Early Information about the Legal Rights and Procedures for Early Intervention in your state can be found in the Autism Speaks Resource Guide


Click on your state and you will find the information under Early Intervention/State Information.


In this same section of the Autism Speaks Resource Guide you will also find state-specific information on the process of transitioning from Early Intervention Services to Special Education Services.


How Do I Get Services Started for My Child?

For Early Intervention Services, if your child is under the age of three, call your local Early Intervention Agency. In most states Early Intervention is provided by the Department of Health. Contact information is included in the local resource guide of this kit. For Special Education Services, if your child is three or older, contact your local school district, and more specifically the Office of Special Education within the school district. In some cases, you may need to put the request in writing that you would like your child evaluated for special education services. Refer to “Assembling Your Team” in this kit for more information. You’ll find more information at the Autism Speaks web site, and in the Action Plan section of this kit.

Before service can be provided, it may be necessary to complete further assessments and evaluations. These may include: An Unstructured Diagnostic Play Session A Developmental Evaluation A Speech – Language Assessment A Parent Interview An Evaluation of Current Behavior An Evaluation of Adaptive or Real Life Skills. You may find yourself spending some time in waiting rooms with your child when you are completing additional evaluations. You have probably already figured out how helpful it is to bring some snacks for your child, his or her favorite toy, or some other form of entertainment to help pass the time. Having to wait for the completion of these additional evaluations, which may be required by the school district or Early Intervention, may be frustrating. There are often waiting lists, so it is important to start the process as soon as possible. The additional evaluations will provide more in-depth information about your child’s symptoms, strengths and needs, and will be helpful for accessing and planning therapy services in the long run. The purpose of the evaluations is to understand your child’s challenges so that he can get the appropriate services that he needs.

The Organization for Autism Research’s A Parent’s Guide to Assessment can be helpful in explaining the results of the evaluations and what they mean for your child. 

The guide can be found at If you find you are spinning your wheels waiting for the results, there are things you can be doing in the meantime. Talk to other parents about what services have been helpful for their children. Investigate the therapies outlined in this kit. Start reading about autism. (There is a list of suggested books and websites at the end this kit, as well as in the Autism Speaks Resource Library.)




Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007).


Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Leaf, R. & McEachin, J. (1998). A Work in Progress: Behavior management strategies and a curriculum for intensive behavioral treatment of autism. New York: Different Roads to Learning.

Maurice, C., Green, G., & Luce, S. C. (1996). Behavioral Interventions for Young Children with Autism: a manual for parents and professionals. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.


Baer, D., Wolf, M., & Risley, T. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.


Maurice, C. (1993). Let Me Hear Your Voice. New York, NY: The Random House Publishing Group.



Ben-Itzchak, E., Lahat, E., Burgin, R., & Zachor, E.D. (2007). Cognitive behavior and intervention outcome in young children with autism, Research in Developmental Disabilities, 29(5), 447-458.

Butter, E.M., Mulick, J.A., & Metz, B. (2006). Eight case reports of learning recovery in children with pervasive developmental disorders after early intervention. Behavior Interventions, 21(4) 227-243.

Eikeseth, S., Smith, T., Jahr, E., & Eldevik, S. (2002). Intensive behavioral treatment at school for 4-to-7-year-old children with autism: A 1-year comparison controlled study. Behavior Modification (Special Issue: Autism), 26(1), 49-68.

Eikeseth, S., Smith, T., Jahr, E., & Eldevik, S. (2007). Outcomes for children with autism who began intensive behavioral treatment between ages 4 and 7. Behavior Modification, 31(3), 264-278.

Eikeseth, S., Hayward, D.W., Gale, C.M., Gitlesen, J.P., & Eldevik, S. (2009). Intensity of supervision and outcome for preschool aged children receiving early intervetion behavioral interventions: A preliminary study. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, (3), 1-


Eldevik, S., Eikeseth, S., Jahr, E., & Smith, T. (2006). The effects of low-intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism and mental retardation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 211-224.


Eldevik, S., Hastings, R.P., Hughes, J.C., Jahr, E., Eikeseth, S.,& Cross, S. (2009). Meta-analysis of early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 38(3), 439-450.


Green, G., Brennan, L., Fein, D. (2002). Intensive behavioral treatment for a toddler at risk for autism. Behavioral Interventions, 26, 69-102.


Howard, J. S., Sparkman, C. R., Cohen, H. G., Green, G. S., & Stanislaw, H. (2005). A comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatment for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26, 359-383.


Kasari, C. (2002). Assessing change in early intervention programs for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(5), 447-461.


Lovaas, O. I. (1997). Behavior treatment and normal education and intellectual functioning in young austic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55,3-9.


Lovaas, O. I. & Smith, T. (1998). A comprehensive behavioral theory of autistic children: Paradigm for research and treatment. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 17-29.


Lovaas, O. I. (1993). The development of a treatment-research project for developmentally disabled and autistic children. Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, 26(4) 617-630.


McEachin, J. J., Smith, T., & Lovaas O. I. (1993). Long term outcome for children with autism who received early intensive behavioral treatment. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 97, 359-372.


Osnes, P. G., & Lieblein, T. (2002). An explicit technology of generalization. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(4), 364-374.


Ozonoff, S., & Cathcart, K. (1998). Effectiveness of a home program intervention for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28(1), 25-36.


Reeve, S. A., Reeve, K. F., Townsend, D., & Poulson, C. L. (2007). Establishing a generalized generalized repertoire of helping behavior in children with autism. Journal of APplied Behavior Analysis, 40(1), 123-136.


Smith, T., Eikeseth, S., Klevstrand, M., & Lovaas, O. I. (1997). Intensive behavioral treatment for preschoolers with severe mental retardation and pervasive developmental disorder. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 102, 238-249.


Stokes, T. F., & Bear, D. M. (1997). An implicit technology of generalization. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10(2), 349-367.


Stokes, T. F., Osnes, P. G. (1989). An operant pursuit of generalization. Behavior Therapy, 20, 337-355.


Tillman, T. C. (2000). Generalization programming and behavioral consultation. The behavior Analyst Today, 1(2), 30-34.




Hart, B., & Risley, T.R. (1980), How to Use Incidental Teaching for Elaborating Language. Lawrence, KS: H & H Enterprises, Inc.

Sundberg, Mark L. & Partington, James W. (1988). Teaching Language to Children with Sutism or Other Developmental Disorders. Pleasant Hill, CA: Behavior Analysts Inc.


Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal Behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.



Bondy, A. S., & Frost, LA. (1994). The picture exchange communication system. Focus on Autistic Behavior, (August), 9(3), 1-19.


Charlop-Christy, M. H., Carpenter, M., Le, L., Leblanc, L. A., & Kellet, K. (1999). Using the picture exchange communication system (PECS) with children with autism: Assessment, speech, social-communicative behavior and problem behavior. Journal of Aplied Behavior Analysis, 35, 213-231.


Kelley, M., Shillingsburg, M., Castro, M., Addison, L., & LaRue, Jr. R. (2007). Further evaluation of emerging speech in childern with developmental disabilities: Training verbal behavior. Journal of APplied Behavior Analysis, 40, 431-445.


Quill, K. (1997). Instructional considerations for young children with autism: The rationale for visually cued instruction. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27(6), 697-714.


Tarbox, J., Madrid, W., Aguilar, B., Jacobo, W., & Schiff, A. (2009). Use of chaining to increase complexity of echoics in children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42, 901-906.


Weiss, M.J. (2001). Expanding ABA intervention in intensice programs for children with autism: The inclusion of natural environment training and fluency based instruction. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2(3), 182-185.


Arntzen, E., Halstadtraso, M. (2003). Training play behavior in a 5-year old boy with developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 367-370.

DiCarlo, C. F., & Reid, D. H. (2004). Increasing pretend toy play of toddlers with disabilities in an inclusive setting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 197-208.

MacDonald, R., Sacramone, S., Mansfield, R., Wiltz, K., & Ahearn, W. (2009). Using video modeling to teach reciprocal pretend play to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(1), 43-55.


Crockett, J. L., Fleming, R. K., Doepke, K. J., & Stevens, J. S. (2005). Parent training: Acquisition and generalization of discrete trials teaching skills with parents of children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28,23-36.


Kashinath, S., Woods, J., & Goldstein, H. (2006). Enhancing generalized teaching strategy use in daily routines by parents of children with autism. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49, 466-485.


Koegel, R. L., Symon, J. B., & Koegel, L. K. (2002). Parent education for families of children with autism living in geographically distant areas. Journal of Positive Behavior Support, 4(2), 88-103.


Lucyshyn, J., Albin, R., Horner, R., Mann, J., Mann, J., & Wadsworth, G. (2007). Family implementation of positive behavior support for a child with autism: Longitudinal, single case, experimental, and descriptive replication and extension. Journal of Postive Behavior Interventions, 9(3), 131-149.


Rocha, M. L., Schreibman, L., & Stahmer, A. C. (2007). Effictiveness of training parents to teach joint attention in children with autism. Journal of Early Intervention, 29(2), 154-172.


Symon, J. B. (2005). Expanding interventions for children with autism: Parents as trainers. Journal of Positive Behavior Support, 7, 159-173.