Autism Services Program

The Autism Specialty Program at the Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy provides a range of services for children, adolescents, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related challenges. We work with a comprehensive team of treatment providers in order to ensure collaborative, creative, and effective treatment.

Areas of Concern with Autism

As the parent or caregiver of a child with autism, you recognize that the types of challenges can vary greatly. Many children with ASD struggle with making and keeping friends, conversation skills, and/or collaborative game play. Others have tantrums, exhibit aggressive or destructive behavior, cannot handle changes in routine, and/or do not follow through when given instructions. A host of additional concerns commonly co-occur with ASD, including anxiety, self-injury, activities of daily living (e.g., toileting difficulties, hygiene), feeding, and sleep difficulties.

Diagnostic Evaluations

The Autism Specialty Program provides diagnostic evaluations for children who have not yet been formally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. A formal diagnosis is important for a number of reasons. First, pinpointing the exact problem enables your child to receive more individualized and effective treatment. Second, a formal diagnosis is often required in order to secure services through your child’s school system or insurance company. Our diagnostic evaluations involve meeting parents, an observation and meeting with the child, and often information gathering from teacher or other professionals involved in the child’s life. We use several assessment tools to ensure that your child is receiving an accurate diagnosis, including the Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule (ADOS), which is currently the gold standard in autism assessment.

Initial Evaluation and Feedback

The process begins with an initial evaluation to get a thorough understanding of the presenting concerns. This typically involves meetings with parents and their child. We may also conduct an observation to see your child in a more natural environment (e.g., at home or at school), as well as request to speak with teachers or other doctors your child has been working with. After obtaining a clearer picture of what is going on, we provide you with comprehensive feedback that includes a summary of the presenting concerns, a discussion about treatment goals, and the presentation of a clear and practical plan of action. This action plan will include a detailed explanation of the specific strategies we suggest.

Treatment Services We Provide

All of our strategies are research supported interventions. Typically, they are behavioral in nature and based on the principles of applied behavior analysis, or ABA. ABA is the most effective approach for treating behaviors associated with autism and related concerns. For higher functioning youth, we also incorporate cognitive-behavioral strategies. Treatment is designed to be efficient, with the goal of providing individuals and families with the tools they need to continue to manage independently once therapy has concluded.

As a team of psychologists, we provide a range of direct services:

  • Education – Understanding your child and his/her behaviors is the foundation for effectively helping him/her. You may also find this to be a validating experience.

  • Practical parenting strategies – We provide concrete strategies to help you improve your child’s behavior and deal with the stresses associated with having a child displaying challenging behavior and poor social skills. Key areas of focus often include providing positive attention, setting effective limits, managing misbehavior, and setting up the home structure for success.
  • Child therapy – We help your child develop the range of social skills, such as empathy, conversation skills, frustration tolerance, and/or game play. We teach skills to overcome anxiety or other co-occurring conditions and improve self-care foster (e.g., appropriate personal hygiene).
  • School consultation – We will collaborate with your school-based team of teachers and counselors however it is needed. Possible ways we can help include conducting a function-based assessment (FBA) and creating a behavior intervention plan (BIP); attending an IEP meeting to assist in the planning process; ensuring a consistent language for teaching skills at school, at home, and in our office; ensuring appropriate targets of intervention are in place; optimizing the effectiveness of your child’s school program; problem solving ways to address challenging behaviors; and/or training school staff to implement specific strategies.

Home and School Based Services

A core component of effective treatment is ensuring that the skills we teach parents and children are able to be successfully utilized within the everyday environment, a process referred to as generalization. Our Autism Program is designed with this in mind. As such, we are willing to go to your home and school for sessions, or conduct remote sessions from your primary environment, to try and enable more “real world” coaching. Additionally, we have established collaborations with Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), or behavior specialists, who will provide regular, intensive services at home or at school. Our partnership ensures you have a team of specialists who communicate on a regular basis to maximize the effectiveness of your treatment and best enable your child to meets his/her goals.