Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics


Interventions for Communication in Autism Network (ICAN)

Some children with Autism develop no words at all by preschool. Tristram Smith, Ph.D., and his colleagues at two partnering institutions are looking at whether these children are best taught through a standard behavioral approach or through an interpersonal, developmental approach.

The standard behavioral approach involves having the teacher sit face-to-face with the child and providing direct instruction over multiple sessions, building step-by-step from basic skills such as imitating basic actions to more advanced skills such as using words to label objects.

In the interpersonal approach, the child is given an opportunity to play and the teacher works on playing a variety of games with the child and encourages the child to communicate during these games.

The $1.87 million, five-year grant incorporates URMC, University of California, Los Angeles and the Kennedy Kreiger Institute and expects to enroll 192 preschool-age children across the three sites. At the University of Rochester Medical Center, Dr. Smith is joined by Dr. Dan Mruzek. Currently the team is actively recruiting children to participate.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

Children between 33 and 54 months old with a diagnosis of and autism spectrum disorder receiving at least 12.5 hours of early intervention or preschool developmental services. Other criteria may apply.

How Does the Study Work?

  • 2 pre-treatment and 2 post-treatment sessions at URMC
  • 6 months of daily 1:1 daily therapy in either Discrete Trials Teaching or Interpersonal Developmental Approach
  • Parent meetings at the school and home

Some intervention sessions and visits will be videotaped. Participants will be reimbursed for visits. Written communication of the child's progress will be provided.


Rachael Davis , M.S.

Currently Closed to Enrollment

Project Collaborators

  • Leona Oakes , Technical Associate
  • Leigh Schiller, Technical Associate
  • Gabrielle Tiede, Technical Associate
  • Jennifer Wick, Technical Associate

Connect with Golisano Children's Hospital

Golisano Children's Hospital Development

Contact Us

NDBP Research
Golisano Children’s Hospital
Box 671
601 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14642

Phone: (585) 275-0220