The DATA Model for Teaching Preschoolers with Autism: Blending Approaches to Meet Individual Needs

Authors: Ilene S. Schwartz Ph.D., BCBA-D, Julie Ashmun M.Ed., BCBA, Bonnie McBride Ph.D., BCBA-D, Crista Scott M.Ed., BCBA, Susan R. Sandall Ph.D.

Format: Layflat, 480 pages, 8.5 x 11.0
ISBN: 9781598573169
Price: $64.95

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DATA Model at-a-glance


How can you help preschoolers with autism thrive in inclusive classrooms? Support their success with this comprehensive, school-based program for children ages 3 to 5 with autism spectrum disorder. Blending best practices from applied behavior analysis and early childhood special education, the DATA Model is a proven program rooted in evidence-based practice and based on 20 years of testing and refinement. First, you'll assess children's functional needs with the DATA Model Skills Checklist; then you'll use more than 140 instructional programming sheets and lesson plans to increase children's developmental progress in the areas identified with the checklist. This linked system helps you pinpoint learning goals for children, promote their progress through tailored interventions, and support children in generalizing new skills and behaviors across settings.

A must for autism and behavior specialists, SLPs, program directors, and early childhood special educators, the DATA Model is the all-in-one program you need to prepare young children with autism for long-term success at school and in their community.


  • create a developmentally appropriate learning environment
  • conduct assessment with the Skills Checklist to determine functional needs and learning goals
  • write clear, step-by-step instructional programs and lesson plans for every learning goal
  • select and deliver instructional strategies that fit the unique needs of each specific child
  • choose and use effective instructional tools such as discrete trials, naturalistic instruction, shaping, and chaining
  • embed learning opportunities within classroom activities and routines
  • address challenging behavior while increasing childrens ability to communicate their needs
  • expertly organize children's assessments, programs, and other information for easy access
  • collaborate with families and the community to meet the needs of each child
  • monitor progress with the Skills Checklist, so you can clearly see if your interventions are working

PRACTICAL MATERIALS: Skills Checklist, 140+ instructional programming sheets and lesson plans, sample schedules, daily data collection sheets, Family Interview Survey, and more. All materials are photocopiable from the manual.


Review by: Brian Boyd, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"The Data Model, which is built upon the scientific principles of applied behavior analysis, provides a comprehensive early childhood curriculum that allows instruction to be tailored to the unique needs of the child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is no doubt that this tool will be of great use to any early childhood practitioner, or family member, working with young children with ASD."
Review by: Rhea Paul, Sacred Heart University
"The DATA Model for Teaching Preschooler with Autism presents a clearly presented manual for a comprehensive intervention program for young children with ASD that draws on a range of evidence-based practices and addresses the full range of critical areas that need to be targeted for intervention in this population. It will make a valuable contribution to the relatively small literature of manualized comprehensive interventions aimed to improving the lives of children with autism and their families."
Review by: Merle Crawford, Occupational Therapist, Special Educator, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst
"The DATA Model Manual and Skills Checklist provide a wealth of information beneficial for a variety of professionals who work with young children with autism, from those who have little experience to those who have been working in the field for many years. The rich information and valuable resources are well organized and will enhance the libraries of those who work with preschoolers with ASD."
Review by: Mary Louise Hemmeter, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University
"I am thrilled that this tool is available. The Data Model provides all the information and tools necessary for supporting young children with Autism in early childhood environments. The authors have created a process and the tools necessary for delivering high quality instruction on highly valued skills in the context of developmentally appropriate learning environments."
Review by: Erin Barton, Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University
"I found The DATA Model to be comprehensive, socially valid, and easy to read. Further, the strategies outlined are feasible and exactly what is needed to support the high fidelity implementation of effective instruction by early childhood teachers in inclusive early childhood settings."
Review by: Lynn Koegel, Clinical Director, Koegel Autism Center Director, Broad Center for Asperger Research
"The DATA Model offers expert and important advice while also providing easy-to-use methods for developing and teaching a myriad of important and critical target behaviors for preschoolers."
Review by: Elizabeth Steed, School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver
"The DATA Model for Teaching Preschoolers with Autism includes a thoughtful and complete manual encompassing the best evidence-based practices for providing a high quality inclusive program for young children with ASD. It covers the essential pieces that a team would need to know to implement a developmentally appropriate, inclusive, and specialized program for young children with ASD in their school or community. The included Skills Checklist is comprehensive and detailed and would provide teams with ongoing information about support a child would need to be successful in an inclusive preschool setting."
Review by: Glen Dunlap, University of Nevada
"This is the best manual I have ever seen for determining what and how to teach young children with autism. The DATA Model and the Skills Checklist are incredibly valuable resources, and the emphasis on quality of life results in a perfectly-oriented curriculum."
Review by: Debra Leach, Associate Professor of Special Education, Winthrop University
"With the use of the DATA Model, young children with ASD are able to fully benefit from the various learning opportunities that inclusive preschool classrooms provide. The model provides practitioners with a framework for embedding intensive interventions within everyday routines and activities in inclusive preschool classrooms to meet their unique learning needs in natural contexts, promoting meaningful learning outcomes that are generalized and maintained across home, school, and community contexts."

Table of Contents

About the Author

Section I: Fundamentals of the Project DATA Model

1. Introducing the DATA Model Approach

2. Characteristics of a High-Quality Inclusive Early Childhood Program for Children with ASD

3. Basic Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis

4. Instructional Strategies to Facilitate Learning

5. Determining What to Teach

6. Writing and Using the Instructional Programs

7. Teaching Project DATA Style

8. Data-Based Decision Making

9. Collaborating with Families and Other Partners

10. Implementing Project DATA in Your Community

Section II: Project DATA Instructional Programs

I. Adaptive

II. Executive Functioning

III. Cognitive

IV. Communication

V. Social

VI. Play


  • Appendix A: Project DATA Skills Checklist
  • Appendix B: Curriculum Crosswalk
  • Appendix C: Materials List
  • Appendix D: Frequently Asked Questions


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