Aaron Deland

Relationship-Based Autism Specialist

How I help families

I teach families how to play with their children to cultivate social development. When you see me play with your child, you will see the power of social connection at work. You will see your child’s ability to participate socially not because they have to, but because they WANT to. You will see a child who develops from the inside out by building a deep social motivation. How do I do that? I help your child want to interact by embracing his or her natural interests and motivations and using them to create interactive games where social connection is the focus. Not only do I help your child develop social interest, but I also provide coaching and feedback that helps you become a creative, confident and dynamic play partner who inspires your child to look at you, play with you and communicate with you. The philosophy of Connecting with Autism is to cultivate growth by creating relationships.

My Background

My background and skills have helped me to realize how to connect with children and adolescents on the spectrum. I started with a degree in alternative education and branched out by learning traditional behavioral methods, being trained by parents and their consultants to do Discrete Trial, Verbal Behavior and Fluency.

While I loved the children and families I worked with, I wasn’t comfortable with the traditional approaches to behavior therapy and felt that a more child centered approach would produce better results. It was around this time that a family I was working with tried an approach called the Son-Rise Program. This was a child centered play-based therapy that focused on social connection rather than cognitive academic skills. I trained at the Autism Treatment Center of America (home of the Son-Rise Program) for nearly 5 years I was certified as a Son-Rise Child Facilitator (2003-2009).

I started my own private practice working with families and continued expanding my skills, first training in nutrition as a certified Health Counselor through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, followed by a HANDLE intro course, and basic training in DIR Floortime.

Since 1999 I have worked with roughly 700 families from all over the world and logged over 5,000 hours of one to one time with children from every part of the spectrum. I feel tremendous gratitude to be able to do what I do and I believe that is reflected in my work.

Support Services Provided

50 minute Phone Consultation: Phone consultations offer parents a chance to talk about and explore any challenges they are having with their child or other areas of their lives. This is an opportunity to gain clarity and peace with the challenges that come with helping a child with autism to develop. These are generally done over Skype.

50 or 90 minute video feedback consultation: You can share a video of you playing with your child and receive feedback based on my observations. This is a great way to become a more effective play partner for your child. When you become a more effective facilitator, you give your child more opportunity to learn and grow. Also done over Skype.

Small group teleconferences: Regular 1-2 hour teleconferences will be offered on different topics and with guest speakers.

In-Home Outreach: This is an in-home training workshop, taught by Aaron DeLand (Founder and Director of CWA). These vary from 2-5 days depending on the family’s needs. A typical outreach workshop teaches you how to run a developmentally driven in-home program for your child.

You will learn:

  • How to play with your child to maximize their opportunities for social growth.
  • The importance of a holistic approach to your child’s development and how to implement it.
  • An appropriate set of developmentally based goals and an understanding of how to reach them.
  • The importance of parent well-being. (physically and attitudinally)

In-Home outreaches include some follow up support including:

  • Email support. This is for quick misc. questions that don’t require a consultation.
  • Phone consultation. Outreaches include a 50 minute Video consult.

Connecting with Autisms’ new website (set to Launch October 2012) is designed to make running an in home program for your child easier and more effective. With your free membership you get a place to centralize all of your child’s therapy information, blogs, articles, websites, research, instructional videos and other resources.

Online training for parents: (coming November 2012)
You can customize your account by adding our online training course that uses video examples, interactive exercises and web tools to teach you the basics of playing for social development. Once you have taken the course it’s yours to use to train others to help you with your program.

Online goal setting and data tracking: (November 2012)
Use the GPS (Growth through Play System) and activity tracker to set developmental goals that are specific to your child, customize your data tracker page to document your sessions and your child’s progress.

CWA Community: (November 2012) With your CWA account you will gain access to a community of families and professionals. Through a simple invitation process you can add people to your online community to act as a source of advice and support.


“Very Special, has a forever place in our hearts and especially Gus’ heart. I’ve never seen the adoration on Gus’ face that he showed for Aaron and I’ve never seen the total abandon in his laughter. These two were connected in another life – and now again you are a special gift to us.”
Education Administrator
Son diagnosed with PDD-NOS/Language Disorder

“Had another assessment done on Flynn last week. The lady said he had no social delay! He played with another child and from what she could see he was perfect. He was flexible, creative, cooperative, everything. She said the only thing he didn’t do was he wasn’t as empathetic when the other child got hurt but we can work on that. Other than that, she said if he was diagnosed now he wouldn’t have been given an Asperger’s diagnosis! So big, big thank you for helping us, it’s really paid off. He definitely is a much calmer, happier little boy.”
Mary Clare
Port Macquarie, Australia
Two sons diagnosed with Aspbergers and Autism


Aaron DeLand
Connecting with Autism