We are passionate autism experts

Every child with autism deserves to live a happy, independent life – and with the right skills, they can achieve it. We use the best in ABA and PRT therapies to teach children with autism and other developmental disabilities or developmental delays essential life skills in an environment that is natural to their own personal development needs, while also having fun!

While living with autism can be a big part of family life, we know it’s just one part of your family lifestyle and dynamic. We collaborate closely with each member of the family to ensure every unique need and challenge is met with an effective solution. Most of our programs are in the home and the community, but clinic sessions are an option. We use daily routines and play to facilitate learning in any environment 

Our therapists are energetic, caring, and highly skilled in working with families and children with autism. We love a game of make-believe just as much as helping you through difficult moments. Joining In STEPPS means joining a family that will be with you through every step of your journey.


Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a complex developmental disorder characterized by having difficulties with communication, social interactions, and sensory processing. The experience is unique to each person as it can manifest in varying forms and severity. People are diagnosed along a spectrum to encompass this full range. A common misconception is that autism is a learning disability. While it is possible for someone with autism to also have delayed learning, the two are not inherently connected.

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is the systematic use of evidence-based techniques to bring about meaningful change in behavior. Research demonstrates that these techniques can be effective in producing improvements in all areas of functioning.

ABA treatment begins with an assessment that identifies specific skill areas that are in need of support. These may include communication, social, play, or daily living skills. ABA therapists break these skills down into smaller, teachable steps. The adult creates learning opportunities during play and daily routines. When the child responds to the adult, their action is rewarded– reinforcing it and thus making it more likely that this will happen again, strengthening learning and brain connections. This way children learn complex interactions one skill at a time and are better equipped to respond to social, communication, and learning situations – decreasing tantrums and other challenging behaviors. ABA programs constantly collect data on progress to evaluate and fine-tune treatment. 

Children with autism experience their environment differently and often struggle to learn or engage in social interactions. There is a lot of research that shows ABA can make a big difference in a child’s life as well as for the family as a whole. There is also research that shows ABA can have a big impact on the developmental trajectories for kids who are delayed in their development, or who have another developmental disability.

Pivotal Response Treatment or PRT is a Naturalistic Developmental Behavior Intervention firmly rooted in ABA and developmental psychology. PRT targets pivotal areas of a child’s development, rather than individual behaviors. Pivotal behaviors include social motivation, response to multiple cues, self-management, and the initiation of social interactions. Treatment takes place within play-based activities and daily routines and involves all family members. The philosophy is that, by targeting these critical areas in a natural environment, PRT will produce broad improvements across other areas of sociability, communication, behavior, and academic skill-building. PRT is one of the most widely studied and validated methods to treat autism in children and it has been recognized as an Evidence-Based Practice (Wong, et al., 2015) and an Established Intervention (National Autism Center, 2015).

NDBI stands for Naturalistic Developmental Behavior Interventions. NDBI combines the developmental principles and theories with the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis into one intervention model. There are several different models under the NDBI umbrella, including the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), Project ImPACT, Incidental Teaching, and Pivotal Response Teaching (PRT). NDBI shares a number of characteristics that were outlined in a seminal 2015 peer-reviewed article (Schreibman, et al., 2015). Examples of these include a manualized treatment, the inclusion of parent education, and ongoing data collection to track progress.

Play is a critical part of any child’s development as it allows children to use creativity to develop physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Through play, children explore and test boundaries to conquer fears, make decisions, develop leadership skills, and discover their own passions — to name just a few benefits. Building relationships with adults through play is a critical component of development. When play is child-directed, parents can see the world through their child’s eyes, and they feel supported in their own world.

Autism can be detected before 18-months. Infant’s brains are very malleable and quick to learn. Starting intervention early helps teach the child skills and build relationships necessary to learn from their environment. Starting intensive ABA therapy as soon as possible can make a difference for your family. 

No. Our therapy has proven effective with kids with developmental delays and other developmental disabilities. We work with families who have a late talker, and with kids with Down Syndrome. If your child’s needs are outside of our scope we will not hesitate to let you know so that you always get the best care for your child and your family.

“Learning should be fun. We use play to help you connect with your child and teach meaningful skills that matter to your family.”

Dr. Yvonne Bruinsma, Founder and CEO, In STEPPS

Our Services

The path forward isn’t always clear. We’re here to make navigation easy so you can get back to daily life. Our comprehensive therapy approach helps you through every step, from assessment to treatment to figuring out insurance.


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Therapy for
infants and toddlers


ABA Intervention

Therapy for children
older than 3-years



Techniques and strategies
for parents to use at home


Connections Club

Social facilitation in a small group setting
to teach play and interaction with peers


Counseling and

Get help from our
licensed clinical psychologist

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In STEPPS currently serves Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sonoma Counties.

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