“Help is in Your Hands” is an excellent new resource for families with young kids with symptoms of or diagnosed on the autism spectrum, as well as for early-intervention providers. It is a free website with 16 web-based video modules to help parents add simple intervention practices to their everyday routines at home. It also offers several webinars for providers on coaching parents to support their young children with autism or with social communication problems.

Child playing with provider
Child playing with provider

Sally Rogers and Aubyn Stahmer, both clinical psychologists and faculty at UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the UC Davis MIND Institute, developed these modules based on their prominent research on how parents and parent coaches effectively use the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). ESDM, developed by Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson, is a naturalistic developmental-behavioral intervention (NDBI) to help kids with autism connect, communicate and learn through various activities and play exercises.

“Families with a child diagnosed with autism or at risk should take some comfort knowing that early treatments such as ESDM are now widely available and do make a difference,” Rogers said. “In ESDM, we focus on the learning opportunities that exist in social interactions between children and adults in everyday life to accelerate children’s

Interactive online resource for parents and providers

The website feature videos of very young children with autism and their parents at home engaging in everyday routines in purposeful ways that embody ESDM practices. One module, for example, focuses on increasing children’s attention to people through positioning people “face to face and close enough to touch” with toys or objects between the child and the adult. Simple but important strategies like this are shared throughout the video lessons to increase child learning opportunities in everyday parent-child interactions.

The website also includes materials for early interventionists who are not autism experts and want to support the families with young children with social communication difficulties that they work with through evidence-based practices. The program offers handouts and videos for families and tools for providers to track parent and child progress as they work with their providers using these tools.

“This resource will support families and early providers who don’t have access to training in evidence-based interventions,” Stahmer said. “They can access these resources anytime and anywhere that works for them!”

All “Help is in Your Hands” modules can be accessed via smart phones, tablets and computers. The materials for this online resource were originally built to support low-income families through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (Grant R324A150211).