Early Childhood Autism Program

Early Childhood Autism Program team

Welcome to the University of Nevada, Reno Early Childhood Autism Program. Our speciality is early intensive behavioral intervention for young, preschool aged children with autism. The program offers a comprehensive, individualized home-based intervention that seeks to normalize all aspects of a child's psychological development.

The program was co-founded in 1995 by faculty members Patrick M. Ghezzi and Sidney W. Bijou, with technical assistance provided in the early years by Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas and his staff at the University of California, Los Angeles Clinic for the Behavioral Treatment of Children. It is the first and still the only university-based early intensive behavioral intervention program for young children with autism in Nevada, and it is one of a handful of such programs in the United States and in the world. It operates out of the Department of Psychology and through the award-winning and fully accredited behavior analysis program. It is also a Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) training site for students involved in the science and practice of behavior analysis.

Our Mission
The Early Childhood Autism Program is dedicated to improving the lives of young children with autism and their families. The scientific principles and established practices of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are at the core of the program. The practice of behavior analysis is complemented and extended by research that contributes to the knowledge base of behavior science. Whether practice, research, or both, the focus is always on the individual child and family, emphasizing the progressive development, refinement, and elaboration of meaningful skills and abilities. As a university-based program, it is also a training site for graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in behavior analysis and for undergraduate students pursuing a degree in psychology or a related field.

The Program
As a primarily home-based program, the intervention takes place in the comfort, safety, and privacy of the child's home. Highly trained and closely supervised graduate and undergraduate student tutors comprise the child's intervention team. In most cases, 30 hours of one-to-one intervention is provided each week throughout the year for a minimum of two years.

A child may also receive school-based services. These services are provided by tutors that work in the home of the child and that are also trained to apply the methods of behavior analysis in the regular education classroom.

The program requires parents to learn how to manage their child's behavior in the home and how to integrate their child's education and treatment into the family routine. Siblings, close relatives, and family friends also must learn how to interact with the child in a positive and productive manner.

Participation in the program is preceded by an intake and evaluation procedure. If the parent's and senior staff agree that it is the appropriate service for the child, then preparations are made first, to begin parent training, and second, to gradually introduce the child's team of tutors into the home.

Fees for intake and evaluation, parent training, and child intervention are determined before providing these services.

Who to Contact
For additional information on the Early Childhood Autism Program, contact the director:

Patrick M. Ghezzi, PhD, BCBA-D
Department of Psychology/296
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557
Telephone: (775) 682-8687
E-mail: patrickg@unr.edu

Charitable Giving

  • The University of Nevada, Reno has developed an endowment that supports an advanced graduate student in the Behavior Analysis Program who works full-time with children and families in the program. For more information on this endowment, please contact Stuart Golder at sgolder@unr.edu.
  • The Sierra Kids Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to providing scholarships to children and families receiving services from the  autism program. The principle means by which this is done is through public and private donations and funds raised by the annual high school basketball tournament, the Wild West Shootout. For more information on the Sierra Kids Foundation and the Wild West Shootout, please visit the foundation's website Sierra Kids Foundation.