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Theiss Early Autism Program

UPMC Content 3

Early intensive behavior intervention can have profound and long-term effects on child development. The Theiss Early Autism Program (TEAP) provides intensive, evidence-based treatment in a preschool setting (BHRS Exception) for children diagnosed with autism. The program serves children ages 2 to 5 years of age (5th birthday must occur after Sept. 30) who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and who qualify for Medical Assistance.

Services and Treatment

The program uses applied behavioral analysis and one-on-one intensive teaching strategies. Activities are individualized to meet each child's needs and may include: 

  • Functional Behavior Assessment and Positive Behavior Support Plans to optimize desired behavior change
  • Individualized treatment programs to address a child's cognitive development, language development, self-care and adaptive behavior, and social-emotional development
  • Applied Behavior Analysis methods including Discrete Trial Training, an analysis of verbal behavior, and Natural Environment Teaching which allow for individualizing and optimizing instruction to enhance a child's learning rate
  • Theme-based preschool activities including circle time, centers, gross motor, pretend play, arts and crafts, music and movement, gross motor play, story time, fine motor activities, and sensory play
  • Systematic re-evaluation to monitor a child's developmental and behavioral needs and to measure progress
  • Enhancing social competence by teaching social skills and play repertoires to support a child to interact appropriately with peers
  • Parent support and an education program that helps parents enhance their child's development in targeted areas 
  • A referral system linking families to community services
  • Meal time opportunities to target adaptive skills, food selectivity issues, and socialization during morning snack and lunch.

Referral Process

A psychiatric/psychological evaluation recommending that an intensive level of behavioral intervention is medically necessary is required. Services are contingent upon agreement by all involved parties at the periodic interagency meetings. Referrals are individually evaluated for acceptance into the program. Initial assessments include evaluating symptoms and gathering psychosocial, educational, medical, developmental, and family histories.