AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parents whose children are autistic now have a new resource to help improve communication skills and behavior. The University of Texas at Austin’s Speech and Hearing Center is offering free online or in-person training.

It’s something Christina and Evan Phelps have tried with their son, Carter. They say he’s seen a huge improvement. After three months of training he now knows dozens of words, as opposed to just “mama,” “dada” and a few others when he first started at 18-months-old.

“We’ve learned ways to interact with him and communicate with him, giving him the ability to express himself and form those social skills that are necessary as he gets older,” Evan Phelps said.

Through the Project SKILLS program, parents learn how to play with their children therapeutically, along with other strategies for coping with everyday challenges. Project SKILLS is in its second year and trained more than 100 families last school year.

Each training has eight sessions. Parents and caregivers of children who are between 1 and 10 years old can sign up by emailing or calling 512-471-2014. The program will also provide internet access and iPads for those who need them.