M-DCPS link
Office of ESE

Learning Experiences - An Alternative Program
                                             for Preschoolers and Parents (LEAP)

What is LEAP?

LEAP is a developmentally-integrated preschool for typically developing children and peers with autism. It offers a comprehensive parent education program providing real help in real-world home and community settings. The LEAP program is research based and is a training model that has been funded continually by the Office of Special Education Programs since 1981. A network of replication sites exist in school districts throughout the United States. The benefits of this program on child and parent behavior have been demonstrated in some 36 peer-reviewed studies.

Key Intervention Components

Teaching typically developing peers to facilitate the social and language skills of children with autism.
Embedding hundreds of learning opportunities each day within typical preschool routines.
Employing transdisciplinary service delivery to help promote the generalization of skills from setting to setting.
Using systematic, daily data collection on IEP objectives to determine the next day’s instructional plans.
Addressing problem behavior by teaching compatible, more adaptive skills (e.g. language, self-regulation).
Using only practices that are evidence-based.
Teaching behavioral skills to adult family members in home and community settings.

Key Research Findings from LEAP Studies

Typically developing peers as young as 36 months can be taught easily to utilize facilitative social and communicative initiations with their peers with autism.
Peers’ use of facilitative strategies result in higher rates of communicative interaction for preschoolers with autism.
The peer facilitative strategies often produce “day one” effects, suggesting that the delayed social and communicative abilities of many young children with autism may be attributable, in part, to the socially non-responsive settings in which they are most often educated.
For many children who receive peer-mediated intervention, their eventual level of social participation falls within the typical range for their age cohorts.
The naturalistic or incidental teaching used in LEAP to influence cognitive outcomes yields approximately two months gain for each month enrolled.
When compared to one-to-one tutorial instruction, the LEAP incidental teaching model yields more active engagement and more complex developmental skills by children with autism and their typical peers.
No negative and some positive outcomes accrue to typical children (e.g. better social skills, fewer disruptive behaviors) in the LEAP model.
Gains for LEAP children maintain following program participation
Children who begin early have better outcomes.



Link for the Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center
and their LEAP Page

Check out these terrific celebrations to use as reinforcers:

Dr. Jean's Cheer Cards

Other great resources can be found the website of the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Scroll down to the "Teaching Social Emotional Skills" section for the emotion pictures:


Download the information from this page in an informational flyer format:

LEAP Info Flyer

The LEAP Parent Agreement: pdf

in English

in Spanish

LEAP "Free Pre-K" Flyer in
English and Spanish

Where to Find More Information About LEAP

To inquire about ongoing research, contact Phil Strain, PhD. (303) 556-3353 or phil.strain@cudenver.edu
To inquire about training opportunities, contact Ted Bovey, M.A. (303) 556-6631 or ted.bovey@cudenver.edu
To inquire about intervention manuals and instructional videotapes, see http://www.toolbox.com/