The LEAP Model of Early Intervention for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized, Controlled Trial


pdf File LEAP - USA RCT Webinar.pdf (448KB) [download]

Archived Recording
In order to view the webinar presentation, please click on the webinar icon below.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
4:00pm Eastern - 5:00PM Eastern
Location: Online

About the Webinar

For the last five years Dr. Strain and his colleagues (particularly Ted Bovey) have conducted what is the largest randomized trial of early intervention in the autism field. It is also the first early intervention randomized trial of a school-based model and the first randomized evaluation of inclusive services for young children with autism.

For this study, a clustered randomized design was employed in which 28 inclusive preschool classrooms from across the US were randomly assigned to receive two years of training and coaching to fidelity in the LEAP preschool model and 28 inclusive classes were assigned to receive intervention manuals only. In total, 177 intervention classroom children and 117 comparison classroom children participated. Children were similar on all measures at start. After 2 years, experimental class children were found to have made significantly greater improvement than their comparison cohorts on measures of cognitive, language, social, problem behavior and autism symptoms. This is the first RCT to show significant behavioral improvement across all the defining characteristics of autism. Behavior at entry did not predict outcome, nor did family SES. The fidelity with which teachers implemented LEAP strategies did predict outcomes. Finally, social validity measurement showed that procedures and outcomes were favorably viewed by intervention class teachers.


Phillip S. Strain, Ph.D.

Dr. Strain is a Professor of Educational Psychology and Director of the Positive Early Learning Experiences Center at the University of Colorado Denver.  Dr. Strain is the author of over 250 scientific papers and he serves on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals.  Dr. Strain has worked in the field of early intervention since 1974 and he developed the LEAP Preschool Model for young children with autism in 1980. With over three dozen per-reviewed studies, LEAP is one of the most extensively researched models in the field of early intervention.


The Early Intervention/ Early Childhood Special Interest Group (EIEC SIG) at AUCD provides information to Network members on critical issues related to early childhood. The EIEC SIG Website can be accessed at