Early Foundation is a model demonstration program for toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) which provides comprehensive intervention using evidence-based strategies, primarily from the field of applied behavior analysis. This unique project began in October 2007 to address the importance of intensive intervention as soon as a child receives a diagnosis or shows at risk for having ASD and to provide these services in a developmentally appropriate setting that includes access to typical peers. Children who are participating in this program receive a combination of services that are designed to meet the individual needs of the child. A unique aspect of this model is that it is located in a community early learning environment. As part of serving the youngest children with ASD, Early Foundations also provides to the community an inclusive mother’s day out program 2-3 days a week. Here children with ASD are able to participate in preschool activities and games with their peers.
Early Foundations also serves as a training site for professionals in the state, demonstrating intervention strategies for children with ASD with an emphasis on inclusive practices. A continuum of training opportunities is offered for professionals that includes observations, internships, coaching and modeling. These opportunities are designed to increase the capacity of early intervention and school personnel to provide quality services for young children with ASD and their families.
In addition to developing an effective model, this project provides replication and outreach support to assist other communities in developing a program with the recommended components. Partnering with SoonerStart, Oklahoma’s Early Intervention program, the model has been replicated in Cleveland, Canadian and Tulsa counties. Ongoing training and technical assistance is provided to the replication sites by the Early Foundations demonstration program.