Coach Mike

Helping Kids with Autism

Therapeutic Services

I offer one-on-one in-home therapeutic and tutoring services for children and adults in the Bethesda, MD and greater Washington, D.C. area with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities. I use intensive intervention programs that employ elements of both Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship (DIR) model.

I offer services including:
  • Academic tutoring
  • Coaching on social skills and understanding emotions
  • Facilitating participation in sports and other recreational activities
  • Teaching life skills
  • Supervising play dates
  • Developing, revising, and implementing programs and
  • Providing guidance for families


I believe a combination of ABA and DIR methods is optimal because ABA provides structure and repetitive learning based on behavioral objectives, while the DIR model focuses on relationships and interests, and teaches skills based on emotional development. Children with autism need a combination and balance of both structure and meaningfulness when they learn.

Philosophy tenets on which these approaches are based

ABA is used to teach academic, communication, problem solving, behavioral, social, play, and other skills by breaking tasks down into small steps and practicing drills. ABA also uses positive reinforcement and just as much prompting as is necessary. Inappropriate behaviors may be phased out by redirecting to target activities rather than drawing more attention to those behaviors. Antecedents, behaviors, and consequences are tracked to try to determine the reasons behind behaviors and implement appropriate interventions. However, some behaviors may be accommodations children need to manage their body or sensory difficulties. Therefore, I focus on building skills more so than reducing behaviors.

The DIR method focuses on the emotional development of the child. It takes into account the child's feelings, relationships, and individual differences. DIR is based on following the child's lead and enables the child to learn by doing what he or she likes to do in a fun and meaningful way that resonates most with the child. DIR focuses on the child's skills in all developmental areas, including social-emotional functioning, communication, thinking and learning, motor skills, body awareness and attention. The DIR method can also help a child generalize skills initially learned through drills.

Part of the DIR model includes Floortime, which involves working with a child at his or her current developmental level, and building upon strengths and interests in a way that is meaningful to the child, rather than just focusing on surface behaviors and drills that don't always generalize into life skills. Floortime can be especially effective during periods when a child needs more play and less work.

I believe in positive reinforcement, encouragement, pushing limits and trying new things that were previously believed to be unattainable. Services I offer include instruction, intervention, and supervision in areas including but not limited to:




Math and word problems, reading and reading comprehension, sight words, sequencing, etc.


Conversation, pointing, gesturing back and forth.

Emotion coaching

Recognizing, understanding and regulating emotions. Using strategies to cope with frustration and negative feelings.

Life skills

• Learning to count money and search for food or other items in a store and buy them.
• Learning to prepare meals.
• Learning to tell time.

Play dates

Participating in play dates with other children with autism or with typically developing children, playing board games, sports and fostering communication.

Social skills

• Having conversations
• Playing games
• Turn taking
• Learning to say please, thank you, and sorry

Sports and Recreation

Participating in sports and other recreational activities such as:

• Basketball
• Bowling
• Exercising

► Breathing and other relaxation techniques
► Imitation
► Practicing fine and gross motor skills
► Stretching
► Yoga

• Frisbee
• Soccer
• Swimming
• Tennis