Frequently Asked Questions

For Parents

How can I know if Project ImPACT will work for my family and my child? Project ImPACT uses an individualized approach where your coach works with you to choose social communication goals, strategies, and activities that are most important to you and your family. The strategies are based on a long history of research in child development and applied behavior analysis (ABA). There’s a lot of research evidence showing that this program helps children build skills and helps parents feel more confident in addressing their child’s needs.

This sounds like it is a lot of work for me. What if I don’t have time to practice? This approach does require more parent participation than other programs. Your coach will work with you to come up with a plan that works for your family’s schedule and routines. The goal is to teach you to use the strategies during activities that you already do with your child every day. Some parents set aside other time to practice at the beginning, but we know this isn’t always possible. That’s OK. By the end of the program, the strategies will be simple to use throughout the day without adding another thing to your list!

I’m looking for a neurodiversity-affirming approach to intervention.  Is Project ImPACT a neuro-affirming practice?  Neurodiversity is a concept that recognizes and values neurological conditions, including autism, as natural variations in brain function rather than solely as disorders that need to be fixed or normalized. Neurodiversity-affirming practices emphasize understanding and supporting children in a way that respects their unique strengths, challenges, and perspectives, and focus on promoting inclusion, acceptance, and accommodations to help them thrive.  Project ImPACT incorporates neurodiversity-affirming principles by focusing on skills that naturally lead to learning, social connection, and well-being, promote autonomy, and support coping and self-regulation. In addition, Project ImPACT uses an individualized and strength-based approach, naturalistic intervention strategies, and collaboration with the family to ensure that intervention is tailored to the needs and preferences of the child.

I was told my child should get ABA. Is this program ABA? ABA, or applied behavior analysis, is a set of learning principles that guide certain intervention programs. Project ImPACT is a Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention (NDBI), a newer class of interventions which blends learning principles with developmental principles to build social communication throughout play and daily routines. NDBIs have a very strong evidence-base and are considered best practice for young children with ASD.  Project ImPACT was co-developed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and can be broadly considered ABA – however, since it is a NDBI, it may look quite different from many ABA programs.

How is Project ImPACT different from (traditional) ABA?  The focus of Project ImPACT is to help children engage and communicate their wants and needs in a way that is understood by others.  As the parent, you choose the social communication goals you want for your child with the support of a coach. Project ImPACT uses naturalistic ABA techniques, which means your child begins a teaching episode within the context of play or other daily routine by communicating an interest in something.  You then prompt or cue your child to communicate in a slightly more complex way and then reinforce them naturally, by giving them what they ask for.  Project ImPACT does not use mass trials or discrete trial teaching (DTT), artificial reinforcers, compliance training, punishment or aversives, and does not attempt to suppress non-harmful behaviors (e.g., stimming) that your child may use to self-regulate.

I think my child needs speech therapy instead of Project ImPACT. What is the difference? Many of the strategies used in Project ImPACT are similar to those used in speech therapy, since Project ImPACT was co-developed by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). Whether you work with an SLP or not, you can learn strategies to help your child communicate from your coach. Your coach can help you decide if work with an SLP is needed to help your child develop other kinds of communication skills.

What if I think my child needs more intensive services or I like the services I am already getting? Project ImPACT isn’t meant to take away from services that your child needs, but it helps to bring together the most common strategies and skills in a way that works for parents of young children with social communication delays. The program will help your child adjust to the types of strategies used in more intensive center-based programs and help you learn the vocabulary and strategies that are involved in other services. This program is a great way to help you and your child build skills you need to help your child be successful as they grow.

Are you recommending this program for me because I need to learn how to be a better parent? This program is not a parenting class. Project imPACT is a way to give you some strategies to interact a little differently with your child since they are learning a little differently than some other children. The coach will learn about your child from you, and then will work with you to choose specific strategies that will help your child.

I want to participate in this program. What will I be doing in these sessions? Appointments usually start by reviewing strategies with your coach and talking about how it is going at home. You might read about the strategies and watch videos of other parents using them. The coach shows you how to use the strategy with your child and coaches you while you practice for most of the session. The coach will also talk with you about the best ways to use these strategies at home that work for you and your family.

How do I find a Certified Project ImPACT Coach? We maintain a list of providers who have completed Project ImPACT Certification. We make every attempt to keep this list updated. Providers who are not certified may also use Project ImPACT. If you are unable to find a certified coach, you may want to look for a provider in your area who uses the curriculum.

For Providers

Do I need to become certified in order to use Project ImPACT with families? No. We have made the Project ImPACT curriculum publicly available to encourage the use of parent coaching in community settings serving young children with social communication challenges.  However, we recommend that providers complete the Beginner e-Course and the Advanced Course to fully understand how to use the curriculum with families. 

Can I use Project ImPACT as a direct intervention? Yes. Project ImPACT was developed as a parent-mediated intervention. However, the intervention strategies are effective as therapist-implemented intervention and can be used by providers and paraprofessionals who deliver direct intervention services to children.

I completed the Project ImPACT Beginner e-Course (Online Tutorial) previously. Do I need to do it again if I attend the Advanced Course? No. However, it is highly recommended that you review the e-course prior to attending the workshop. You can submit a copy of your Beginner e-Course (Online Tutorial) Completion Certificate to the individual leading the Advanced Course to receive a $75 discount. 

Do I need a graduate degree to become a Certified Project ImPACT Coach? No. Given the skills involved in providing high-quality coaching to families, we recommend that providers have a graduate degree in their respective discipline. However, providers without a graduate degree may be eligible to become certified if they have significant experience working with families of young children with social communication challenges.

What is the certification process for coaches? Providers must read the manuals and complete the Beginner and Advanced Courses and then receive 6 months of consultation while implementing the program with families. To become certified, providers must submit training materials and videos of key elements of the program that meet fidelity of implementation.  

Can a Certified Project ImPACT Coach train other providers? Certified coaches can support other professionals within their practice setting in using Project ImPACT. They may not offer Advanced Courses or provide certification.  Certified coaches who wish to offer Advanced Courses and/or train others to certification must complete additional training to become a Project ImPACT Trainer Consultant. 

Can I use the slides, videos, and other materials I received while doing my certification to train others in my own setting? No. These materials are only available for use by Certified Trainer Consultants. However, you may use the slides and videos that are provided on Guildford Press’s companion website to  develop your own training materials. 

Is there a certification process to become a Project ImPACT Trainer Consultant? Yes. Certified Project ImPACT coaches who have used the program for at least one year can apply to complete additional training to become Project ImPACT Trainer Consultants. Given our limited training capacity, priority will be given to providers who work in regions with a high demand for training. Additional information on the Project ImPACT Trainer Consultant certification process will be available soon.

Do you provide support to organizational leaders who wish to scale up the use Project ImPACT within their organization? Yes. Organizational leaders may benefit from assistance in planning and implementing Project ImPACT from a Project ImPACT Trainer Consultant. Team meetings can be conducted prior to or following the Consultation and Certification process and could address planning for sustainability; identifying and coordinating the intervention team; identifying and on-boarding families; determining program logistics; addressing family barriers to participation; and determining adaptations that can be made to meet the needs of the organization while still maintaining fidelity.