About Project ImPACT

Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers) for Toddlers is a naturalistic approach designed to coach parents and caregivers of 12-24 month olds to support their children’s development. The original program was developed by Brooke Ingersoll, PhD, BCBA-D and Anna Dvortcsak, MS, CCC-SLP. The evidence-based approach combines behavioral and developmental strategies to increase children’s social communication and play skills during daily activities. Project ImPACT for Toddlers is an adapted version of Project ImPACT.

Project ImPACT for Toddlers is specifically designed for families who have early concerns about their child’s social communication. The program has been streamlined from the original for use with younger children, provides toddler-focused examples, incorporates parent engagement strategies, and facilitates the use of the strategies in typical parent-toddler routines. The adapted program and therapist training plans are being tested in Southern California through funding from the Institute for Education Sciences, Office of Special Education Research, and Autism Speaks. Materials, additional information, and training opportunities will be available to the public when research is complete.

More information on the original Project ImPACT program can be found at the Michigan State Univeristy Autism Research Lab.

Program materials can be purchased through Guilford Press.

Information for Parents:

Project ImPACT for Toddlers is a naturalistic approach that coaches parents and caregivers of toddlers to support their child’s development using a combination of developmental and behavioral strategies. As part of Project ImPACT for Toddlers, families partner with an interventionist to build social interaction, communication and play skills by selecting strategies to use during daily activities with their children. Strategies are individualized based on the specific child and family needs. Families generally meet individually with their interventionist for two to three hours per week for 12 weeks. Research has shown that Project ImPACT for Toddlers is effective for use with young children.


Watch the video to see what parents are saying about Project ImPACT for Toddlers!

Frequently Asked Questions by Parents (FAQ):

I was told me my child should have ABA. Is this program ABA?
Yes, it is based in the principles of ABA. Applied behavior analysis or ABA is a set of principles that guide certain intervention programs. Project ImPACT for Toddlers teaches parents to use strategies based on ABA to teach their children social and communication skills. Because the program is for toddlers, it also uses the principles of developmental science along with the ABA strategies to help with social interaction.

I think my child needs speech & language therapy instead of Project ImPACT. What is the difference?
Many of the strategies used in Project ImPACT for Toddlers are similar to those used in speech and language therapy. Sometimes an SLP might be the one working with you. Whether you work with an SLP or not, you can learn strategies to help your child communicate from your interventionist. As your interventionists gets to know your child, he/she can work with you to decide if more specific work with an SLP is needed.

Can other people who help take care of child learn the strategies too?
If there are other family members or caregivers who spend time with your child, they are welcome to join you. We recommend that one person attend sessions consistently because the strategies build on each other. But, having other people come can provide support. If some caregivers want to learn but cannot attend the sessions, we recommend sharing the reading materials, or video recording sessions to share with others.

How do I know this program works for children like mine?

There’s a lot of research evidence showing that this program helps children make gains and helps parents feel more confident in addressing their child’s needs. The strategies are based on a long history of research in child development and ABA. Research shows these strategies improve children’s communication and social skills.

Are you recommending this class for me because I need to learn how to be a better parent?

This is not a parenting class. This is a way to give you some strategies to interact a little differently with your child since he/she is learning a little differently than some other children. The interventionist will learn about your child from you, and then will work with you to choose specific strategies that will help your child.

What if I think my child needs more intensive services?

This program is a great way to get you and you child started in early intervention services. The program will help your child adjust to the types of strategies used in more intensive programs, and help you learn the vocabulary and strategies. The interventionist will also be learning more about what your child may need and can help you to identify what the next steps will be after you complete this program.

What will I be doing in these sessions?
Appointments usually start by reviewing some strategies with the interventionist and talking about how it is going using the strategies at home. The interventionist then shows you how to use the strategy with your child and then coaches you while you practice. The interventionist will also talk with you about the best ways to use these strategies at home that work for you and your family.

How will we decide what skills to teach my child?
During the first session or two the interventionist will play with your child, and ask you to play with your child. You will both complete a checklist of skills to see which ones your child can do and which ones he/she may need to learn. Together you will talk about which skills are appropriate for your child and which ones are most important to you and your family. Then you will decide on goals to work on during your time together.

Will I have to set aside a lot time at home to practice these strategies?

The goal of the program is to help you use the strategies in daily activities and routines that you already do with your child every day. In the beginning you may want to practice at special times, but by the end of the program the strategies will be simple to use throughout the day without adding another thing to your list!


Agencies currently providing Project ImPACT for Toddlers:

Rady Children’s Hospital
Autism Discovery Institute
(858) 966-7453

Crimson Center for Speech & Language
(858) 695-9415

Motiva Associates
(619) 691-1880

Stars Therapy Services
(619) 600-1395

(760) 294-1206

Home of Guiding Hands
(619) 938-2850

Beginnings Infant Program
(619) 238-0105

Center for Thoughtful Lasting Change
(619) 804-1420

Funding may be provided through the San Diego Regional Center (depending on individual needs or eligibility), insurance, or self-pay. Contact your service coordinator for more information.