Early Childhood Program (2-6 YO Children)

Do you have a toddler or child who is experiencing developmental and/or behavioral challenges in their home, community, daycare, and/or preschool environment?

Are these challenges limiting his/her ability to communicate or engage with others, to stay within that setting, or to show growth in play, pre-academic, communication, or developmental skill areas?

As a parent, teacher, or provider, would you benefit from seeing demonstration of best practices within a simulated home, play-based or classroom environment and targeting a couple of specific social, learning and/or behavioral objectives?

If you are new to this opportunities or would like to learn more:

Early childhood programming includes both individual and group formats. Group formats will be driven by integrated needs such that children involved within the group are working on individualized yet complementary goals. Programming is informed through skill-based assessment and involves a combination of goal-directed and general skills teaching, and training specific to the identified pre-academic, developmental, behavioral, and functional needs.

Such needs may be driven by current challenges impeding successful inclusion within home, preschool, social, and community activities or placements. Materials and strategies shared as part of programming are encouraged to be shared among providers to best set up for success in use across a range of settings as applicable. The early childhood program is comprised of three service options (i.e., parent/child dyad, individual services, group services) that caregivers or providers can select from:

Parent & Child Interaction Consultation (i.e., parent/child dyad):

Initial sessions will focus on skills and goal development to provide direction for future sessions. Sessions are structured to address the identified academic, behavioral, and/or functional goals of the child as well as caregiver goals for skills development as well. During sessions, HANDS trainers provide instruction as well as demonstrate strategies in practice with the child while the caregiver observes.

Caregivers then have opportunities to ask questions, practice skills with the child, and receive feedback from the trainer in real time. Improved skills of both caregiver and child lead to improved interactions and practical skills that can be used with greater ease in the natural environment, particularly when partnered with setting-based consultations to foster improved use and improvement in the home and community settings. At times, multiple persons such as 2 caregivers, a caregiver and provider, or other may be engaged to best support use of strategies across persons and settings.

Example: Caregivers are interested in learning how to impose structure and routine within the home and/or community through use of strategies such as schedules and visuals supports. HANDS trainers instruct on the use of a full or partial day schedule and applicable activity schedules, transition tools (i.e., tools to assist in successful transitions from one activity to the next), and other applicable visuals supports during sessions.

Trainers will also model and coach caregivers, providing opportunities for practice and feedback on their use, and providing the supports for further practice and use in the natural home, daycare, and other community settings between sessions. Other proactive, prompting and management strategies that support the effective use of the tools are also taught to ensure the greatest chance of practical use within natural home and community contexts.

If you are new to this opportunities or would like to learn more:

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Individual or group services and programming:

Initial sessions will focus on skills assessment and goal development to provide direction for future sessions. Sessions are structured to address the identified academic, behavioral, and/or functional goals. Skills and interventions will be individualized but may be addressed in either an individual or group setting depending on the format best able to target the prioritized goals at that time.

Individual Example: The child is behind academically and the parents would like to work on the development of skills that will better prepare the child for kindergarten. Specific academic skills to address would be identified through assessment, goal setting, and practice during sessions with a HANDS trainer and between sessions (e.g., homework practice)

Group Example: A small group, consisting of no more than 4-6 similar aged children, work together in group activities that allow for learning and practice of such skills as turn taking, use of positive commenting, and response to one another during interactive games using  materials of high interest to the children involved.

Adaptations to materials and activities are individualized based upon the particular needs of group members (e.g.,  fine or gross motor adaptations,  communication output options, visual cues/supports) to best support the childrens’ ability to understand, express, and engage with peers within the group.

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In addition to the 3 service options reflected above, a range of evaluation, consultation and participation options exist as follows:


An independent evaluation is inclusive of a records review, caregiver interview, and observation to assist in identifying individual learning styles and current skills that will inform curriculum and behavioral planning.

Setting-Based Consultation:

Setting-based consultations can occur within home, community, or school-based settings. Individualized consultation may be considered for children with challenging behavior who are at high risk of a more restrictive placement, change in student status/placement, or for whom associated travel risks are high. A minimum of 3 hours is required to allow for activities such as record review, interview, and observation, as part of the consult. Travel greater than 75 miles from the HANDS Center and/or reports are not included as part of the onsite hours and are included separately as desired or needed.

Example: Home-based consultation may be requested for an individual who is at an extraordinary risk for running away or wandering during which current providers and/or supports have been unsuccessful in eliminating this behavior. Direct observation and assessment of the current setting by a HANDS trainer may be recommended to provide information and supports necessary for planning, providing, and/or training interventions for ultimate use by caregivers and teams in the home environment.

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Web-Based Consultation:

Web-based consultation provides virtual support that is not limited by setting or location. Consultation among caregivers, service providers or provider teams, can assist in the planning and/or support of initial or ongoing assessment, training, and practice related to the use of  evidence-based strategies, collaboration, and use of available local and state resources with success. Consultation is coordinated for up to an hour each time and may occur across single or multiple, hourly occasions. Coordination occurs to ensure individuals or teams can effectively engage for the duration with all consultation activities (e.g., review of records) occurring during scheduled times. Video or web conference capabilities are required for effective consultation.

Example: A family and provider team are working to implement meaningful daily routines within a home setting. A HANDS trainer joins during a scheduled time convenient to full team discussion or that will allow for observation of current routines. This provides opportunity for sharing of perspectives on or visibility of the routine and current approaches to inform potential treatment options. The HANDS trainer is able to effectively mentor the team and provide coaching aligned with recommendations as well as potentially  inform adaptations and additions to visual supports and other strategies that will assist the team as well as the family in applying the practices and strategies with success and  independence.

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Intensive (3-5 Day) Training Participation:

Among early childhood options, children may have opportunity to participate in the 3-Day Early Childhood workshop as scheduled throughout the year. During these workshops, children engage in a range of activities in both individual and group formats while working with adult training participants (e.g., teachers, daycare providers, therapists, etc.) who are learning to apply evidence-based strategies and concepts such as schedules, prompting practice, data collection, social skills teaching and other activities as part of their experience in the HANDS training.

Example: A child participating in a training will work with adult participants during academic or pre-academic activities on various tasks appropriate to their level and skill. The child will also interact with participants in group activities such as art, snack and outdoor games with participants focused on appropriate prompting and praise while the children work on improving play skills and spontaneous conversations. While not working with participants, the child will participate in various individual, one on one and group work and play activities with the HANDS trainers and other child participants in a camp-like atmosphere.

Contact us at (317)274.2675 or hands@iupui.edu with any questions.

If you are new to this opportunities or would like to learn more:

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