Autism Clinical Center

The State of Missouri–Washington University Autism Clinical Center fulfills a unique role in addressing the needs of individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorders in our community. It is one of five Missouri Autism Centers and is a program of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine.

Diagnosis and comprehensive intervention planning

Diagnosis

Intervention planning for individuals affected by autism and related disorders hinges on accurate diagnosis, not only with respect to autism itself, but with respect to the many conditions that can complicate the life and development of an individual affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The Autism Clinical Center systematically evaluates and tracks the three foundations of accurate diagnosis in ASD. This includes:

  • Developmental history
  • Symptom burden- the impact that a child’s symptoms have on them and their family
  • Expert clinician appraisal of the role of ASD — versus that of other possible conditions and factors — in the symptoms experienced by a patient

Intervention

Intervention planning at the Autism Clinical Center is consistently re-evaluated because a patient’s response to an individual plan can guide the development of a better, more refined plan. Moreover, optimal intervention changes with the growth and development of the patient.

Typically patients are re-evaluated at key junctures:

  • School entry
  • Onset of adolescence
  • Transition to adulthood

Applied behavior analysis and positive behavior support plans

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is therapy that creates behavior change through positive reinforcement and environmental modification.  ABA can help reduce unwanted behaviors and develop new skills.  We offer a unique model of ABA focusing on interdisciplinary care with our team of providers.

ABA services may include:

  • Joint meeting with a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and physician
  • Review of community-based plans and programs
  • Preference assessments
  • Functional behavior assessment
  • Functional analysis
  • Behavior support plan
  • Language/communication assessment
  • Daily Living Skills Assessment
  • Individualized educationa program (IEP)/support plan review
  • School district support
  • Direct ABA Therapy by a BCBA

The Autism Clinical Center may provide ABA assessment, treatment and ongoing care as determined by our board-certified behavior analysts.

Early intensive behavioral intervention (ages birth-2 years)

The Early Preventive Intervention Clinic-Infant/Toddler Autism Program (EPIC-ITAP) provides a brief, early intervention service for infants and toddlers 24 months and younger who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis or who are considered to be at high-risk for an ASD.

The EPIC-ITAP intervention uses a relationship-focused developmental model to teach caregivers how to positively support their child’s early cognitive, social and emotional development using well-validated behavioral techniques.

A highly trained, multidisciplinary team including psychologists, occupational therapists, and board-certified behavior analysts deliver the EPIC-ITAP intervention in strong partnership with families over a period of 16 weeks.

Psychiatric intervention

It is common for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism to be complicated by behavioral symptoms that can be extremely impairing and potentially treatable. These include anxiety, aggression, mood instability and hyperactivity.

A unique strength of the Autism Clinical Center is its complement of child psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurse practitioners who guide the development and continuous refinement of intervention plans that directly address these complications of autism.

Interdisciplinary team

As a patient here, your child benefits from having a care team that’s constantly in contact with experts across Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Unique areas of expertise include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Augmentative communication
  • Occupational therapy
  • Clinical genomics

View or download the Autism Clinical Center brochure (pdf) »