Empowering Parents Impacting Families!

The Pathways Parent Training Program is based on the latest, evidence-based research on intervention practices for toddlers with autism or at risk for autism.

What do I need to know about autism?

Failure to orient to social stimuli” represents one of the earliest and most basic impairments in autism…  In other words your child is not tuning in to the people in their world!

Early Signs...

Social Attunement

From the first days and weeks of life, babies tune in to the social stimuli in their world. They prefer to hear human sounds rather than just sounds in the environment; they are naturally drawn to people and faces rather than objects. 

Early signs… As a parent, you might feel like there is no “connection”. It may appear that your child is making no effort to connect or interact with others. Your child may appear happier when playing alone or seem to focus more on objects than people. You may feel that your child does not seem to share or express enjoyment in play and interaction with you.

Eye Contact

Typically developing babies prefer to look at people rather than at things. They look at people’s eyes, so much so that they even prefer to look at people who are looking at them rather than people who are looking away.

Early signs… As a parent, you might notice that it is increasingly harder to get your child to look at you or that your child avoids eye contact with you or others. Your child might look at someone from across the room but avoid eye contact when trying to engage your child in social interaction.


Babbling begins shortly after birth and progresses as the child’s repertoire of sounds expands and vocalizations become more speech-like.

Early signs… As a parent, you may notice that your child is very silent or that your child makes lots of noise but not many different sounds. You should be concerned if your child is not babbling or if your child continues to babble long after they should be saying words.


Babies learn to communicate long before they have any words…with the use of gestures such as showing, giving, waving, clapping, pointing or nodding and shaking their head.

Early signs… As a parent, you may notice that your child uses very few or no gestures. Your child may not point or follow a point and may use your hand as a tool rather than using gestures to get what they need.

Social Smiles

Around two months of age, infants across cultures begin to smile in response to social stimuli. If you smile at a baby, they usually smile back.

Early signs… As a parent, you may notice that your child will laugh and smile when all alone—as if in response to something in their own little world—yet not laugh and smile in response to people or social interaction. Your child may not laugh and/or smile in response to another’s laugh and/or smile.

Turning to Name

By six months a child should be quick to look up or turn when his/her name is called.

Early signs… As a parent, you may notice that even after repeatedly calling your child’s name your child doesn’t respond. Your child may seem not to hear or appear to ignore. The most reliable characteristic of autism identified so far is failure to look up or turn to name.


In typical infants, imitations emerges very early in development and plays a role in both learning and social engagement.

Early signs… As a parent, you may notice that your child does not imitate. You may be very frustrated because you feel like you aren’t able to teach your child common things like words, gestures and play. Your child may not engage in the back-and-forth imitation games that parents typically play with their little ones.

What do I need to do?

If you notice any of the early signs listed above or even think “MAYBE“, then you should contact your local IDEA Part C Early Childhood Intervention (ECI). By law everyone has access to Part C Programs. These programs have highly trained Early Childhood Professionals who provide services to children with special needs.

IDEA Part C Programs

Our Pathways team has made the decision to work extensively with IDEA Part C Programs because we believe every family deserves the best for their children. These programs have highly trained professionals including SLPs, OTs, PTs, Mental Health, and Early Childhood Interventionists who are specially trained to work with families and their children. Part C programs are state and federally-funded Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) programs (birth to three years). All children with delays or disabilities in the United States have access to IDEA Part C services and cannot be denied due to lack of public or private insurance coverage. In fact, families of all income levels receive IDEA Part C intervention services.

If your local IDEA Part C program does not offer the Pathways Parent Training Program yet, share this website!


Here’s what parents are saying about Pathways Parent Training Program!

“Before we began the Pathways Program, Griffin was in a dark place, all by himself. He never acknowledged nor cared to play or interact with anyone. He had no words, never pointed, and LOTS of inappropriate behaviors like crashing, stemming, and screaming. When Pathways Interventionist started working with Griffin, they began pulling him out of his world and into ours! They taught us how to connect with Griffin. Now Griffin has joined our family and we can’t keep him quiet! Like a typical 4 year old, Griffin is now asking questions, playing with others, and will even ask for help when he needs it. He knows how to express his emotions verbally without all the behaviors. He gladly gives lots of hugs and kisses, and says those long sought after words…’I love you Mama!’ There is no doubt that Pathways changed the quality of life for Griffin and our family! Words can’t express our appreciation for Pathways and we will be forever grateful for their dedication to Griffin!”

~ Griffin’s Mom

“Pathways has been an absolute life-changing experience for our son and our family as a whole. It has actually become a way of life for us. Before starting this program, it seemed that we were headed in a downward spiral with our son with regard to his behavior and development. We noticed a positive difference in him within days of beginning this program, and his improvement has only progressed. We look forward every week to our next step in the program. Words cannot express our appreciation for being able to participate and benefit from such a wonderful program. We will forever be grateful!”

~ Garrett’s Mom

“ECI screened my son for Autism and I started looking for services. There were many choices and forms of therapy to choose from, but I didn’t want my son treated like a robot and bribed to learn how to do basic functions in his life. My husband and I thought long and hard about what our son’s next step would be. I researched many interventions but most of them were clinics or offices where you take your child and he receives therapy with you sitting in the waiting room. When I found out about Pathways (and they come to your home) I was intrigued and decided to make an appointment with them. It was the best thing I ever did for my son and our family. It is not even a year and my son is a totally different kiddo. He is on a path to having a normal life with all of the strategies and interventions that Pathways has shown our family. My son has become a social butterfly and my family and I are confident that he is going to be just fine! If you have any doubts about what is the best for your child who has Autism, please give Pathways a chance. It will be the best thing you can do for your child and your family.”

~ Luca’s Mom

“Pathways has equipped our family with a research-based and practical behavioral plan specific to our son. Always seeking positive outcomes and building on our successes week by week. Renee and Michelle’s decades of experience have enabled them to implement techniques that have resulted in dramatic improvements for us in the areas of obsessive/repetitive behaviors, communication, social skills, sensory needs, toilet training, feeding, self-care and more. My questions and concerns are always readily addressed as his needs and/or behaviors change. We now understand how to reinforce positive behaviors and minimize those that are less than desirable.”

~ Kristi

Case’s doctor suspected he may have autism at his 18 month checkup. She gave us absolutely no hope, direction or options. We were heartbroken, angry and scared to death, until we found Pathways!

We cannot express our gratitude for the Pathways Program! They have guided and instructed us on what to do to best help him. He has been completely transformed from being unaware that we are even in the same room, to actually interacting with us and understanding what we say. He is a much happier kid, and because of that, we can’t thank her enough! We look forward to watching him continue to learn and grow!

There is no doubt in our minds that Case was given to us for a reason! Now it’s our job to help him figure that out and we will do whatever it takes! We love our little guy with all our hearts and cannot imagine life without him!”

~Case’s Mom

We are writing this letter to express our appreciation to the creators of the Pathways program. We are really inspired by your dedicated work in bringing children with autism and their families together for a better and brighter future. We have witnessed countless improvements in our child’s development, social skills, and communication. Overall, your program has opened up a door, not only to our son, but also to us, his loving family. Since we started the program in February of this year, we have seen his anxiety levels go down, he points, he smiles, and most of all he communicates in a more efficient way.

Our son’s name is Emmanuel, but we call him Manny. He started the program with a severe speech delay; it was composed of only 5 words: bye, bus, ball, no, and cat. The rest of the time he would babble, but would not form words or even syllables. Now, he babbles much more while making eye contact, he forms syllables, he makes a variety of facial expressions while babbling, and has added about 10 more words to his vocabulary. Now, he imitates sounds and words occasionally. At 29 months, he is able to label some objects such as cars and animals. What we really love is that he is not only using more words, but he uses them in a much more functional way and looks at us enthusiastically while saying words or labeling objects.

Before Pathways, he displayed lack of creative play. He would align trucks or other objects in rows of two or more, and would spend a lot of time observing the lines. He would get really agitated if this pattern would get disrupted in any way. Daily focused practice has taught us to help him play in a functional way. Now, he uses his toys in an appropriate manner. He rolls them around while making rumbling sounds and honking. He shares his interests in toys and movies with us by pointing and smiling, whereas before he would only play by himself for hours. Before pathways, our son would request for food and drinks by pointing but would not look at our faces. He still requests by pointing to his sippy cup or plate, but now, he looks at us when doing so. He connects much more with us while he is eating in his high chair. He smiles, and even wants to feed mommy. He also pretends to feed his plushtoys.

One of the main things we like about Pathways is that it revolves around a child’s natural environment. We love that we can participate in his therapy and learn skills at the same time. Before, we wanted to force words into his mouth, thinking that one day he will pick up the words and use them. Pathways taught us to turn away from being the lead, and instead let our child lead our daily interaction. We took baby steps to allow our son to start trusting us, to interact with us, and most of all, let him be the guide. Focus practice gives Manny the opportunity to communicate with his family in his own favorite way. At the same time, we learned what is reinforcing to our child. Manny loves to be tickled, therefore we find opportunities in which we can reinforce a good behavior by tickling him. The most rewarding fruit we have received from Pathways is when Manny looks and smiles at us. Pathways taught us to help our son make eye contact by getting in Manny’s line of sight first, then finding activities to encouraged eye contact. Before, Manny would request for food, drink, and other needs by crying without even looking at us. Now, he looks at us and points when he wants something.

Overall, we are ecstatic about the Pathways program. So far, we have witnessed a dramatic improvement in every possible way. Pathways has helped our son be closer to us. He requests to play with us. He bonds with his siblings. He points more. He makes eye contact. We notice daily improvements here and there. Every time we sit for focused practice with Manny, we become closer.

We all know that early intervention is best when the child is young, the younger, the better. I strongly recommend to spread the word out even more, to expose your program to different communities and private services. Give us parents and ECI partners, who are dutifully following your program, the means to help you expand awareness of the benefits of the Pathways program.

We really wish you continue your research and contribution to our precious children. Thank you for everything, you are doing a fantastic job!

~Best wishes, Eduardo and Anahi

A Memoir of Autism

A testimony to silence. The pages are filled with words unspoken yet remain blank at things said. Ignorance proof reads the truth of our reality while social stigmas edit the activities of our daily life. The hard-back binding of our story is as rigid as our routines and fortified with the strength of our conviction to be heard. This is our memoir of Autism.

The complications that Forrest suffered in utero and at birth means he is subject to an array of obstacles whose specifics remained unclear and unpredictable. In the first year, we weren’t faced with too much that couldn’t be reasoned out with “baby logic”, or that didn’t fall within the realms of what we perceived to be normal issues or that raised alarm in his pediatrician. He was happy, healthy and we had nothing but time. Then everything changed. He wasn’t the same happy, energetic son we had always known. He was in a constant state of anxiety. He whined continuously and roamed aimlessly around the house as if he losing a game of hide-n-seek with his peace. Mealtimes became exponentially more difficult and caused him to lose a significant amount of weight, further threatening his health. He had developed extreme aversions to certain things, displayed an incredible need for routine and sameness, started suffering from separation anxiety, but above all, he wasn’t talking. Not even babbling. If he wasn’t giving voice to his anxiety with inconsolable screaming and crying, he was silent. To this very day, the only way I get to hear my son call me “mom” is through his broken cries searching for comfort. Every milestone Forrest missed became the standard unit that Hannah and I would measure ourselves against as parents, a quickly deteriorating confidence that was rejuvenated with the referral to Early Childhood Intervention. Our referral to ECI was bittersweet. Hannah and I were torn between being grateful for such a promising resource and heartbroken at our need for such services. We were devastated that the adversity that Forrest faced constituted this magnitude of help and were ashamed as parents for not already being what he needed. Hannah and I navigated the emotional landmines of our internal conflict with Forrest’s progress as our only heading. I remember the day I received the call regarding our referral. It was late afternoon and we had just gotten home from grocery shopping when my phone rang. In the midst of the chaos of having just arrived to the house with an armful of groceries and a grumpy Forrest, I became frantic at learning that the nature of the call was to schedule an evaluation with ECI. I immediately lost any concept of a calendar. I fumbled over my words thinking out loud; trying to formulate an answer. The unfamiliar voice belonging to the unknown number explained that an Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) and a Speech Therapist (SLP) would come to our home to discuss Forrest’s development while observing him in his natural environment and that this initial visit normally lasted about 2 hours. It was with that information that i was able to pinpoint a date and time and with no further questions the call was over.

January 8, 2016, the day of our appointment had arrived and even though a general idea of what our evaluation would entail had been offered, our unfamiliarity with the process in which we found ourselves left us to our own devices and our expectations painted by our demons. It is the privilege and right of every parent to dote on and brag about their child’s accomplishments, big or small. These sentimental and pride filled moments, regardless of impossibility or inevitability, serve as pillars in the joy of parenthood…but this was not the conversation we were preparing to have. Instead we spent the morning plotting timelines, reciting concerns and supporting them with examples sourced from our most precious and vulnerable memories. His childhood rendered into an eye spy mosaic of qualification.

When they arrived, I was immediately relieved by the energy with which they surrounded us. It was not cold and clinical as I expected but rather genuine and supportive. They took the time to get to know us as individuals and as a family instead of making us feel like uncredited sources for their documentation. We sat at the table delivering our stories to them at lightspeed while they patiently sifted out the pivotal and operation details they needed to draw their conclusions. Forrest was 18 months old but was estimated to be 6 months behind developmentally. By the end of it all, Forrest had qualified for services, our schedule was made and our goals outlined. It is with absolute certainty that I am able to identify having our goals outlined as the single most important and useful tool his therapist could have provided us. Up until this point I gauged time in missed milestones, watching and knowing that Forrest was falling further and further behind. My google history revealed endless searches for overcoming developmental delays, at home PT/OT exercises and speech therapy tips and trick, a graveyard of desperation. Everything I knew about developmental skills and the building block on which they’re found had been syphoned from parent magazines, Pinterest articles and pediatric handouts but I still lacked having a working knowledge of the sequential application of everything I had read. Frustrated at this vicious cycle, I implemented everything that I had read and learned, at the same time, hoping to catch some traction on closing his developmental gap, and that turned out to be the most chaotic decision I had ever made. After his goals were outlined I instantly felt relived, as if I didn’t have to catch him up to every missed marker all at once. Those goals were my beacon as a parent if I ever lost sight of what I needed to be doing for him. They say that parenthood doesn’t come with an instruction manual but ECI comes pretty close.

Forrest was scheduled to receive biweekly visits from an SLP and an EIS , opposite of each other. The first few sessions served as a period of acclamation for Forrest to his new teachers. They allowed most of the interaction to be on his terms and played alongside him, gaining a solid baseline for his capabilities and ideas for areas of growth. I, however, would not be afforded the same grace period; They were curious about our daily interactions and surrounding circumstance and asked for demonstrations and/or examples. I met their tidal wave of intense inquisition enthusiastically and anxiously awaited any advice or insight they might provide. It was now clear to me that this was going to be just as much of a learning experience for me as it was going to be for Forrest.

Once acquaintances had been made and we were able to settle into what our therapy sessions would consist of from then on out, I was absolutely amazed at the differences in style between the two sessions despite them being governed by the same dynamics; play based, same goals and shared obstacles. SLP visits were geared more towards free play and focused on animating Forrest, his actions or his toys with sounds or short phrases or labeling objects. EIS visits however, were much more task oriented and included things such as stacking, sorting and looking at books. It wasn’t long before we saw the effects of such synergistic therapy. On Mother’s Day that same year, Forrest started signing “more” and “please”. I do not have words enough to describe how overwhelmed Hannah and I were at the opportunity for communication with our son and on such a special day. Two simple words: “more” and “please” became the best gift we could have hoped to received and became our reason for celebration that Mother’s Day. We saw an increase in babbling, his problem-solving skills and a migration from his rigid notions of destructive play to something much more cooperative. He was finally making progress.

September 20, 2016 was the day Forrest was officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and even though we weren’t surprised at his diagnosis, it was still hard to hear. The few minutes we were given to process what we had just learned and to prepare ourselves for the other half of the conversation was made clear to be nothing more than an observation of social etiquette when it his “high functioning” diagnosis was used as reason to continue prematurely. The last 30 seconds we had before our lives changed forever were dismissed for us. The vast majority of the conversation to follow fell on deaf ears, the only sure thing I was able to process was that the doctor was recommending ABA therapy as it was becoming the standard for individuals with Autism. We looked to our EIS for answers and found comfort. We were told the methods behind ABA were, and are, controversial but that is was a relatively new form of therapy and such was the price for being so. Our EIS offered several routes of education and contributed her own wealth of knowledge to the conversation. I spent weeks doing research, talking to members of the Autistic community, and doing some hard thinking before I decided that ABA therapy, in the capacity that I understood it, was not for us. Shortly after arriving at this decision, I was informed that ECI would soon be certifying select employees in ABA techniques and these services would follow suit of those already being given: In the natural environment, family participating and a much more forgiving schedule.

December 16, 2016 was our very first Pathways session and we were fearless. Coincidently enough, the EIS who had been with us since our very first day was one of the select few to be certified and would now be guiding us through our next journey. The Pathways Program is an ABA based therapy that specifically addresses communication and socialization skills of individuals with Autism driven by the idea of positive reinforcement. Pathways took a completely different approach to reaching Forrest than his EIS and I had been taking thus far, and while we had seen some improvement, it had all but ceased and Forrest had slammed face first into a major wall of regression. The details of the units we have covered thus far are far too extraneous to try to outline on this particular occasion but the effects and progress I seen in my son are unparalleled. We have seen more progress in areas of profound importance in the past 3 months with Pathways then we did the 11 months of therapy prior. Our moments of reckoning was when we watched Forrest run up to a boy in his class and gave him a hug , on his own accord.

Pathways is finding the peace my son lost so long ago and is giving it back one unit at a time. For me, Hannah and Forrest Pathways has redefined the gift of life.

~ Forrest’s Mom