CST information for parents and caregivers

At no cost to families, the World Health Organization (WHO) Caregiver Skills Training (CST) for Families of Children with Developmental Delays or Disabilities can help caregivers build day-to-day skills to better understand and engage with their children.

Caregiver Skills Training diversity group

The CST program is for you if you:

  • Are the parent or caregiver of a child diagnosed with a developmental disorder, including autism, between the ages of 2 and 9
  • Have concerns about your child’s development or behavior and are looking for strategies you can implement at home
  • Desire a stronger local support system of trained community members and other families
  • Are looking to build your confidence and develop parenting skills to better support your child and your own well-being

What can you expect?

The CST program consists of 12 sessions, including nine group sessions and three home visits. Small groups of caregivers get together with a trained group leader weekly or biweekly for two-hour group sessions. 

Caregiver Skills Training child asking for soap

Throughout the sessions, you will learn about:

  • Ways to engage your child in activities
  • Using play and home routines as opportunities to teach critical skills
  • Understanding your child’s communication
  • Strategies to teach your child communication and daily living skills
  • Problem solving and self-care skills

Through coaching and group discussions, group leaders teach a curriculum of common communication and behavioral challenges and work with you to model effective parenting strategies. During home visits, group leaders observe your interactions with your child and coach you as you practice the skills you have learned in the group sessions.

The strategies taught throughout the program are drawn from evidence-based behavior interventions such as JASPER (Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement, Regulation) and PRT (Pivotal Response Training). Research on CST consistently shows that caregivers who complete the program report improvements in their well-being, quality of life and the quality of their interactions with their children.

How can you get involved?

Sign up for the virtual eCST platform

WHO is now offering the CST program in a virtual, interactive, self-paced learning environment. On the eCST platform, you can access pre-recorded courses, videos, quizzes, journal prompts and other digital materials to learn CST techniques right at home.

Sign up now.

Download the CST guide

The CST participant guide is meant to be used by caregivers who sign up for the WHO Caregiver Skills Training program. The guide provides content that will be used during each of the nine group sessions. It includes illustrated descriptions of the key messages, skills and strategies taught in each session, as well as goal-setting activities.

Download the guide here

Watch the CST Caregiver Quick Tips videos

Autism Speaks created a video series based on the CST program that teaches caregivers how to use play and everyday routines to help their child engage in activities, expand their communication, learn new skills and more. View the Caregiver Quick Tips videos for a sample of the CST program.

Watch all Caregiver Quick Tips videos here

Listen to the Caregivers Skills Training For You podcast

Want to learn more about the CST program? Our new Caregivers Skills Training For You podcast introduces CST and discusses some of the skills parents and caregivers can expect to learn to support children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Listen to the podcast here.

Find your local CST site

The CST program has been piloted in over 30 sites around the world. While the in-person training program is not yet widely available to the public, Autism Speaks is working with WHO to bring CST to more communities near you. Find your closest CST site here.

Interested in participating in CST? Register for e-mail updates and get alerted when in-person training is available near you.

Contact us

Questions? Contact us at CST@autismspeaks.org

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You can also reach the Autism Response Team by phone or email: 888-288-4762, en Espanol 888-772-7050, or help@autismspeaks.org.