We Train Future Providers

At the Early Learning Institute, we are very interested in preparing service providers to work with children with ASD and their families. We currently offer training and supervision for Behavioral Technicians and Board Certified Behavior Analysts. We also provide training and mentoring to individuals at the undergraduate, graduate, and post doctoral levels interested in ASD intervention research. If you are interested in training or mentoring for research, please contact Dr. Josh Plavnick at:

We engage in a series of year-round training activities at the Early Learning Institute, that range from recurring seminars to intensive “hands on” training in delivery of services to children with ASD. We recently completed a seminar series emphasizing an introduction to applied behavior analysis and intensive intervention for children with ASD. Each seminar was facilitated by an expert from MSU’s faculty. Attendees included MSU students and staff at the Child Development Laboratories Preschool. Topics included:

Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis: This 2-hr seminar is designed to introduce applied behavior analysis, and the basic concepts and principles that underlie a behavioral approach to teaching and learning.

Identifying reinforcers: Identifying items that increase desirable behavior or inadvertently increase problematic behavior is critical for supporting children with ASD. This seminar will build on the previous session by teaching participants strategies for identifying activities and items that can be used to strengthen the behaviors that help children learn, develop independence, and engage in prosocial interactions with peers.

Explicit and systematic instruction: The purpose of this session is to provide participants with the tools necessary to break complex skills into component parts and to systematically teach the components so that children become independent and fluent performers of those skills in the appropriate situations. The session will provide an overview of prompting and prompt fading, shaping, and chaining.

Natural environment training: One of the most important procedures for teaching children with ASD is natural environment training, which brings behavioral principles into a natural environment to take advantage of the naturally occurring learning opportunites that occur within that environment. This type of instruction is essential for teaching children with ASD to generalize the skills they have learned in more structured settings. This session will teach participants to embed and capture naturally occurring reinforcers within the typical events that occur in the classroom.

Pivotal skills: There are several core skills that allow children to learn a number of new skills without explicit instruction. For example, when a child learns to imitate others, he begins to learn many new behaviors through simple observation. Similarly, once children initiate interactions with peers, they have numerous opportunities to engage in additional social behaviors. Participants will learn about a range of pivotal skills and some basic strategies for teaching these skills in a classroom environment.

Peer mediated strategies: One approach to enhance the learning opportunities for children with disabilities is to incorporate typical peers in the instruction process. Doing so requires careful preparation of peers and the construction of optimal environments to promote positive social interactions with peers. This session will introduce peer mediated strategies and systems to arrange successful programs that incorporate preschool-aged peers.

Visual supports and how to use them: Many children with ASD benefit from visual cues and supports. Once systematically taught, carefully sequenced visual cues can provide children with ASD with the support they need to independently navigate a number of environments and classroom scenarios. Participants will learn to teach visual vocabulary to children with ASD and to organize visual cues in a way that can support classroom success.

Family components: A family centered approach is essential to the sustained long-term success of children with ASD. This seminar will provide an overview of considerations for a family centered approach and for communicating with and supporting parents during the preschool years.