Inclusive and Participatory Practice – a critical best practice
July 21, 2016
Including all children, a student’s reflection
August 19, 2016

International researcher Prof. Phil Stain shares some significant lessons he has learnt from over 45 years of research and operation of an inclusive program for young children with autism and their families (LEAP Preschool).

Lesson One:  Being a part of an inclusive preschool and receiving specific instruction in skills needed to engage peers with ASD in social interactions seems to innoculate three to five year olds from developing negative stereotypes about people with disabilities.

Lesson Two:  It has been said that if you do not accurately define a problem you will never solve it.  I have come to the conclusion that the primary learning issue for children with ASD is not one of acquiring new skills but is one of applying skills at the right time and in the right place.  In LEAP this means that we write objectives (goals) accordingly and continue to teach until the child can perform the new skill (e.g. color identification) in multiple, generalization contexts (e.g. selects the red pajamas she has chosen to wear; handed a peer a green bear that was requested).

Lesson Three:  Hours of intervention, in and of itself, is a crude and relatively meaningless indicator of quality service or program intensity.  I believe the real formula to quality is far more complex.  It looks something like this:


Formula RGB Vertical v3 (2)


Notice that there are multiplication signs in this formula, and like all multiplication equations when any one factor equals zero the sum equals zero!

Lesson Four:  To do evidence-based practice in the early intervention field for children with ASD is to use multiple evidence-based practices!  The fact is, however, that many name-brand models have a slavish adherence to one instructional approach.  The problem is that no one instructional model works universally for all children for all developmental domains.  In LEAP we ask this question: We want to teach Eric to use more words to express his wants (mand), what teaching tactic has the best evidence that it impacts verbal language in kids like Eric?  If you ask such a questions across multiple premarin online pharmacy developmental domains you will produce a plan comprised of multiple strategies.


Phil Strain

Phil Strain, Ph.D.
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education and Human Development

Phil began his career in the early intervention field not by choice. As a war resister during the Vietnam era, he spent a brief but enlightening 6 months in a federal correctional facility. When his “conviction” for refusing induction was overturned, he was assigned two years of alternative service as an early childhood special education teacher in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He graduated in psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and in no way was he prepared to teach. He quickly learned – on day one actually – that the purpose of his class was to preserve de facto racial segregation under the guise of special education. Stunningly ill-equipped, embarrassed, and humbled by his responsibilities he enrolled in his first education classes at Peabody College in nearby Nashville. The skills he acquired in these initial classes saved his psyche, inspired him to enroll the following year full-time, and made teaching a natural high! Over the next four years he completed his doctorate in Early Childhood Special Education, became committed to a life-time of scientific inquiry and found a particular passion for intervention research specific to young children with autism, young children with early onset problem behaviour and children’s social/emotional development.

Some highlights of his 45 year career included:

  • Publication of over 300 scientific papers,
  • Completion of several 25-year, longitudinal studies on the impact of early intervention,
  • Development of the LEAP Model of inclusive services for young children with autism,
  • Having the opportunity to work closely with extraordinary colleagues, including Sam Odom, Howard Goldstein, Diane Sainato, Barbara Smith, Mark Wolery, Carl Dunst, Scott McConnell, Mary Louise Hemmeter, Lise Fox and Glen Dunlap.

Further information on the LEAP Preschool: An Inclusive Model of Early Autism Intervention can be found here

Prof Phil Strain is a keynote speaker at the 2016 ECIA  National Conference being held in Melbourne in September. For more information and to register see here

Catalina Voroneanu
Catalina Voroneanu
Inclusion Program Coordinator

1 Comment

  1. This is a wonderful blog piece that has relevant and easy to understand information for all learning types!!! I love that there is a maths equation that makes complete and utter sense. Anything multiplied by zero is zero, and ALL elements are crucial. I also think the research has helped us to really understand child development – particularly learning and applying new skills. I agree (well who am I to disagree?!) that our focus should be on applying skills at the right time in the right place. We still of course need to reflect on the child’s skill acquisition to know that a child can actually do the task/activity before trying to apply it, but certainly often it is the case that children DO have the skills and do not yet know appropriate ways to use or apply them. Generalized application is the end goal.
    Thank you very much for sharing. What an exciting speaker for the Melbourne conference! Very complementary to Mary Louise Hemmeter’s Inclusion Symposium discussion and continued support in our roll out in Australia.
    Sara Stockman – an avid fan of Phil Strain and all his esteemed colleagues!!

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