Our Philosophy

The HANDS in Autism® Interdisciplinary Training and Resource Center is an integrated program that has a focus on comprehensive and individualized interventions for individuals with ASD and related disorders. Behavioral assessment and intervention strategies are all derived from an applied behavior analysis (ABA) model with use of data-driven practices that are evidence-based, individualized, and culturally responsive. The specific combination of strategies selected from the strategies represented below are all emerging from an ABA and data-driven framework. All interventions are applied in an integrated and individualized manner to achieve the goal of formulating the safest, least restrictive, and most effective intervention for each individual.

Our approach is based upon the following:

  • a focus on individuals strengths of each student
  • a focus on comprehensive training (i.e., assessment thru goal development)
  • hands-on learning with children of various levels of functioning and challenge
  • training in a model of didactics combined with modeling, practice, and feedback in a supportive coaching environments
  • training to multiple caregivers working hands-on with individuals with autism in various environments
  • provision of training based on a “best practices” approach to assessment and intervention
  • development of curriculum and behavioral planning based on data-driven decision making
  • a focus on positive partnering between caregivers
  • an intent to build local capacity of teams

HANDS in Autism® Diamond

ABA is the core empirically-supported approach guiding the choice of specific evidence-based strategies used by HANDS. Our philosophy involves the blending of methodologies that are consistent with ABA and are tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual. The HANDS in Autism® diamond demonstrates our approach. ABA is shown as the top of the diamond as it guides our overall approach and choice of strategies. Specific behavioral strategies are shown as the various facets of the diamond. The way in which the strategies are applied is individualized for each individual. While there are other evidence-based strategies not reflected in our diamond, those shown represent some of the primary approaches used in our program and or those commonly used around the state.

ABA is a research-based philosophy of working with individuals (not just individuals with autism). ABA is an umbrella term that applies to a range of strategies. Some people equate ABA to specific methods (discrete trial training, intensive behavioral intervention, ABA therapy) rather than the broad-based meaning of the term. ABA relies on standard behavioral principles to address reduction of behavior as well as alternatives to the environment and teaching of appropriate skills to support reduction of behaviors. It also focuses on data-driven decision-making in planning and implementation of treatment plans.

To learn about these strategies, view our e-module on ABA Philosophy

Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs expressed in a diagram

The specific curriculum content and delivery at HANDS in Autism® is novel in its approach with specific alignment to the following core beliefs:

  1. Strengths driven: a focus upon building strengths and successes for individuals with an emphasis on proactive planning and teaching practical skills (Iovannone, Dunlap, Huber, & Kincaid, 2003; National Research Council [NRC], 2001);
  2. Collaborative: delivery across caregivers and community stakeholders for consistency, coordination, and positive collaboration (Baker et. al., 2005; Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, 2005; Swiezy, Stuart, & Korzekwa, 2008);
  3. Data-driven: a relationship to data-driven decision making practices across all settings to affect best outcomes through systematic planning and individualization of efforts (Iovannone et al., 2003; NRC, 2001);
  4. Scientifically-based: a basis from current research in special education, psychology, medicine, public health, and related fields with relevance to ASD, ID, DD, and related disabilities with a focus on the practical and effective blending of scientifically-based strategies (Horner, Carr, Strain, Todd, & Reed, 2002; Matson, Benavidez, Compton, Paclawskj, & Bagilo, 1996; National Autism Center [NAC], 2009; Odom et al., 2003);
  5. Interactive: an incorporation of implementation and systems training research that indicate the need to appeal to varied learning styles (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005) and the need for more interactive strategies to ensure usage in naturalistic home, community, school, and clinical settings (McClannahan, & Krantz,1993; Joyce & Showers, 2002);
  6. Practical and accessible: delivery through accessible materials, training, technology, and consultative staff in efforts to decrease barriers, increase support, and improve implementation and utilization of the strategies taught; and
  7. Process-driven: an infusion with a fluid and integrated process for effectively working with all children/youth by incorporating data-driven strategies, research-based methods, collaboration and individualized needs to develop effective programming (Iovannone et al., 2003; Kazdin, 2001; NRC, 2001).