Collaborative Autism Training & Support Program

The mission of the CATS Program is to enrich the lives of families of children with autism spectrum disorders by training service providers to implement effective interventions; to provide free respite and family support; and to raise local and broader awareness of autism.


Family Support: Parents train a student to work with their child and provide free respite care. They receive an Autism Resource Manual, join an empowering network of families of children with autism, and have access to seminars, resource information, and a pool of trained students for independent paid respite.

Student Course: In a two-semester, 8-unit program, students learn about the diagnosis and treatment of autism through lectures, reading, research, autism site visits, and a series of seminars from community autism experts. They work for 60-plus hours with a child and that child’s intervention team, and provide respite for a family.

Community Seminars: Local autism experts provide seminars to parents, professionals, students and care providers, including practical information so participants can apply what they learn.

Information Dissemination: We are creating a Web page with video recordings and transcripts of the community autism seminars. A booklet summarizing current interventions has been created, and a book based on the seminars is planned. Several local agencies partner with us to inform the public of upcoming seminars and parent support opportunities.

Parents’ Voices

Before we got into the CATS program we were nearly in despair about the lack of programs and support but we now feel that things are definitely improving. Please let us know when we can sign up again! Bill & Michelle Chayes

It has been especially helpful to get together with other parents of children with autism – no one else knows exactly what we are going through. Mary Ellen Wells

Our student still works with our child in the home. The bond they have created has helped our child progress in ways we never dreamed he could. – Ed & Angela Turpin

Our son has been interacting much more since the program. Also, Jessica’s visits gave us (me, in particular) a much-needed respite just to get basic things done. One other benefit to being part of the CATS program was becoming part of a small community of supportive parents. This is a very valuable program, for both the children and the parents. It is very much needed in the autistic community, which is growing larger by the minute! Robin and Cliff Baum

I have three boys with special needs. When our student started with us, Church was a painful ordeal. I would start to panic the night before wondering how I was going to make it through another Sabbath. Our student’s willingness to participate in the church service was invaluable in showing my boys how to get along with others. She provided a safe relationship for the boys to practice social skills. My boys absolutely love her. Marsha Bray

Lindsay had an incredible rapport with our son. My wife also learned valuable information and made excellent contacts by participating in the CATS program. Parents of children with autism desperately need programs like this to provide education and community support. Brian McSweeney

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  • Welcome!

  • Hello and welcome! My intention is to create a comprehensive and helpful resource directory for Sonoma County. If you know of anything that should be listed here, or if you find any outdated information, please contact me. Thank you!
    Stephanie McGlynn, MFT