Autism starts when a child is very young. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have:
- Language that develops slowly or not at all
- Lack of social play, eye contact, smiling, or cuddling
- Behaviors that are repeated over and over again or intense reactions to changes in routine
Children with ASD may also have very strong reactions to certain things they touch, taste, or hear. They may get upset easily or have a lot of tantrums.
The Need for Help
Today, ASD affects 1 in every 88 children. In Iowa, there may be as many as 6,500 children with ASD and 350 to 400 more are diagnosed each year.
Families often have to decide what services to arrange for their child and where to find these services locally. They are also expected to communicate the results of their child’s evaluations and coordinate care between service providers. The complicated process often leaves families feeling frustrated and helpless in meeting the needs of their child.
That's Where We Come In
The Autism Center at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital was developed to make access to services and resources easier for families living here, in the Iowa City area, and elsewhere in the state of Iowa.
Because ASD affects so many aspects of life, children are best served by a team of experts working together. The Autism Center combines expertise from the Center for Disabilities and Development, the Department of Pediatrics, and the Department of Psychiatry. It is lead by co-directors Scott Lindgren, PhD, and Thomas Wassink, MD.
Based on family needs and solid research, we have identified the most effective services for individuals with ASD and their families. Our goals are to:
- Provide effective clinical services for individuals with ASD and their families
- Partner with and support autism services across the state
- Provide training for those who serve individuals with ASD
- Carry out world-class research on causes and interventions for ASD
We offer the following clinical services:
- Comprehensive evaluations: A team of specialists meet with you and your child to carefully evaluate whether your child has autism
- Medication management: Assessing and adjusting medications used to treat the symptoms of autism.
- Behavioral assessment and consultation: Assessing challenging behaviors and identifying ways to help
- Evaluation of educational needs and learning problems
- Evaluation of speech and language, feeding and sleep disorders
- Evaluations of daily-living skills (eating, dressing, walking)
- Evaluation of assistive technology needs
- Evaluation and treatment of adults with autism spectrum disorders
We work hard to make your visit convenient and efficient, and we communicate with your family doctor or other health care providers to make sure everyone understands the care your child needs.
Depending on a patient’s needs, appointments with the Autism Center may be provided by one of four services:
- Center for Disabilities and Development
- Pediatric Psychology
- Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic
- Adult Psychiatry Clinic
To request an appointment at any one of these four services, please call 855-842-8847.
Resources and Community Support
We help connect families to resources and support in their communities, like respite care and child care (to give you a break!), safety equipment, support groups, vocational programs, self-advocacy support, and more.
Here are some local resources we like:
Here are some national resources we like:
View and print materials commonly distributed prior to a visit, during a visit, and after a visit to the Autism Center:
Education and Training
We provide education and training about autism to parents, teachers, students, social workers, and doctors through seminars and conferences held on the UI campus and around the state. Early identification, practical help for challenging behaviors, and putting into practice proven methods for treating autism are emphasized. View a flyer for our spring workshop series, Understanding Autism: Practical Help for Parenting Children with Autism.
We are actively researching the causes of autism, as well as new and better treatments. Genetic testing, behavior therapy, and the use of telehealth services for families in far-away communities are just a few of the areas we are exploring to provide the latest and best care for those with autism.
Still have questions about the Autism Center?
See if our Frequently Asked Questions section can help.