Projects and Services

LEAP Preschool Model

Brief History

LEAP Preschool was founded in 1981 by Phillip Strain, PhD. as a model demonstration program funded by the Handicapped Children's Early Education Program, U.S. Department of Education. The original LEAP effort was developed in collaboration with the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania City Schools. Four years later the program moved to the Fox Chapel Public Schools, Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. In 1996 Dr. Strain moved to the University of Colorado Denver where he continued replication work associated with the LEAP Model. LEAP is widely considered one of the most well researched programs for young children with autism.

The Model

Key components of the LEAP Preschool Model include:


In the 30 year history of LEAP the program has been the site for extensive research and training activities. LEAP recently completed the largest randomized, controlled trial of an intervention for children with autism to date (LEAP - USA) with over 280 children participating in the study. We have also received funding to conduct a longitudinal follow up of the LEAP - USA RCT participants.

LEAP research initiatives have also focused on demonstrating the unique contributions of specific program components on child and family behavior change. Over 30 peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated the efficacy of LEAP strategies for teaching peer-related social skills, communication skills, cognitive and pre-academic skills and for the model as a whole. Other studies have demonstrated parents' skill acquisition and subsequent changes in child behavior in home settings that are attributable to LEAP's Family Skill Training. A listing of LEAP efficacy studies can be found here.


In 1984 LEAP began to establish replication sites and provide general skill training for school districts throughout the US and numerous foreign countries. Currently there are over 80 LEAP preschool replication sites throughout the United States and in Canada. For more information on LEAP Replication and training opportunities please contact Ted Bovey.