Autism Center

Refer a Patient

How to Refer a Patient

If your patient is new to Seattle Children’s Autism Center, we typically schedule an initial visit to determine their diagnostic and care planning needs. The first visit determines the next steps, which could be a diagnostic evaluation, referrals to Autism Center services or to programs in the community. Patients referred specifically to the Fast-Track Psychiatric Consultation Program are not required to have an initial care-planning visit first.

The Autism Center has long waitlists for diagnostic evaluations. Your patient may be able to get an evaluation closer to home at another center with shorter wait times. Refer to this list of autism diagnostic Centers of Excellence by county (PDF). You may also share these resources with your patient:

If you are unsure about whether to refer your patient, please call our Clinical Intake Nurses at 206-987-2080, option 1.

To view our services by location, see Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Service Locations (PDF).

Services We Don’t Offer

We do not see children for the following (see our list of possible resources in the community for these children):

  • Diagnostic re-evaluation for autism. Due to our long wait for initial evaluations, if the patient has already had an evaluation we do not provide second opinions. Here is a list of providers in the community that will provide evaluations.
  • Short-term therapy (unless referred by a Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine provider for one of our mood and anxiety therapy groups)
  • Sexual abuse/sexual aggression
  • Long-term individual therapy
  • Long-term medication management
  • In-home therapy
  • Dyslexia or learning disorder evaluations
  • Parenting evaluations for legal purposes
  • School evaluations after expulsion or suspension (if schools require this, they should provide a list of approved providers for this)

On this page

Appointment availability

Updated April 2023.

Wait times differ by service and, for some services, by patient age. We recommend that families call 206-987-8080 to verify that we have received the referral. When they call, we will be able let them know the current wait time for the service they’ve been referred for.

Referral requirements

Please submit a referral that is complete. This helps us schedule your patient’s appointment in a timely manner and ensure their first visit is smooth and productive.       

Please include:

  • Service/specialty clinic requested (see Autism Center treatments and services). If you refer to the Psychiatric Medication Consultation clinic, Behavior Clinic, Early Intervention ABA or Pediatric Feeding Program there is a required supplemental questionnaire that helps us to triage them into the right program. The forms are available at the bottom of this section or you can click here to get to those forms. They must be sent along with the NARF.
  • Reason for referral: What is the clinical question for the specialist? (specifics help us match your patient with an appropriate service more quickly)
  • Autism diagnosis status: Needs autism evaluation, has a provisional diagnosis, or has autism diagnosis and needs care related to their autism.
  • Any other relevant diagnosis
  • Visit type:
    • New patient consult, transfer of care, or return visit/ongoing care
  • ALL relevant clinical documents:
    • Clinic notes
    • Previous specialty evaluations (for example, previous autism/developmental, mental health or educational evaluations/IEP)
    • Medication history
  • Helpful if available, but not required:
    • Growth charts/curves
    • Lab reports
    • Imaging and diagnostic reports (images can be uploaded to PowerShare)
  • Patient’s full name, DOB, sex, address, guardian contact information and insurance
  • Referring provider’s name, phone, fax and the referral coordinator’s email address so that we may contact you if additional information is needed
  • If an interpreter is needed
  • Any known barriers to performing a successful telehealth (video) visit with the family
  • Supplemental questionnaire – required for the clinics below:

Please note:

  • Inpatient care: Patients can be admitted to the inpatient Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) (ages 3 to 17) only after they visit an emergency room and providers there decide they would benefit from an inpatient stay.
  • Patients not seen by our department in the last 3 years will need a new referral.

Our Classes

Please note:

  • Classes are different than therapy groups.
  • Some classes require a referral. Others do not. See our list of classes below.
  • Classes are shorter than groups and repeat more often.
  • Waitlists are much shorter, if there is any wait at all.
  • Classes are designed to help families start to access the information, tools and resources they and their child need, often while they are waiting to join a therapy group at Seattle Children’s or individual/group therapy elsewhere.
  • Classes are web-based at this time.
  • Financial assistance is available for qualifying families for classes with an associated cost.

List of classes:

  • Autism 101 
    Free 90-minute video lecture introducing families to the basics of autism.
  • Autism and My Family: A Series of Videos in Spanish 
    Free series of videos on many topics related to autism, including: the diagnosis, the process of finding therapies, and living with an autism diagnosis. Each video focuses on the story of a local family and community provider who share on the topic and their experiences.
  • Conversations About Autism 
    Free series of 60-minute live-streamed sessions created for providers and caregivers of children with autism who wish to better understand the autism spectrum disorder. In these sessions, experts and advocates from our region share their knowledge and perspectives on autism as well as helpful tips for supporting a child, adolescent or young adult with autism.
  • First Steps: New Diagnosis of Autism
    A referral is required. This is a 3-part class series designed to provide information and support caregivers of youth newly diagnosed with autism. Classes are small, interactive, and taught by a psychologist or nurse at the Autism Center. At this time, classes are offered remotely.
  • First Steps: Early Communication
    A referral is required. This is a 3-part class series designed to provide information and support for caregivers who want to encourage their child’s development related to communication. Classes are small, interactive, and taught by a psychologist or speech therapist at the Autism Center. At this time, classes are offered remotely.
  • Feeding First Steps: Caregiver Education Classes with the Pediatric Feeding Program
    A referral is required. This caregiver class meets once a week for 3-weeks. Each session is 90 minutes. The focus will be on learning:
    • Common challenges in children with restrictive eating
    • Multifunctional contributors to (or influences on) feeding difficulties
    • How feeding challenges can emerge or continue over time
    • Practical first steps towards expanding diet and meal participation
  • Finding Mental Health Care in Washington State: A Class on Where to Start
    A referral is not required. This free 60-minute monthly class is for families who are seeking mental and behavioral health services for children or youth under 18 and who are not familiar with the mental health system in Washington state.
  • Next Steps: Transitioning to Adulthood for Youth with Autism.
    A referral is required. Next Steps is a 3-part class series designed to provide information and support caregivers of youth with autism, who is age 15 to 21 and transitioning to adulthood. We offer two versions of this class. 1) Steps to Independence Designed for parents and caregivers of youth who may have plans to go to college, work and live independently or enter the workforce. 2) Lifelong Learning Designed for parents and caregivers of youth who will need ongoing support, guardianship disability and other support services.
  • Legal Transitions to Adulthood
    A class for parents and caregivers of youth in their late teens who will need ongoing support as adults or help with decision-making, disability-related benefits and other services. 
  • Mindfulness Classes for Parents and Caregivers (Spanish)

Submit a referral

We’re committed to partnering with you

Once we receive your referral, we will contact you:

  • If we have questions about the referral
  • If the patient does not meet the clinical criteria for our programs

Due to the amount of referrals we receive, we aren’t able to contact every PCP when a referral is received. In addition, we are not able to contact every family to confirm receipt of their referral. Please encourage families to contact us to confirm receipt after the referral is placed.

We are always available to answer questions and support your care of your patients. Call the Provider-to-Provider line at 206-987-7777 or, toll free, 877-985-4637, if you need to talk with us for any reason or for a consultation.

Meet the Autism team.

Learn more about managing your patients at Seattle Children’s.

What Your Patients Can Expect

  • Once we get your referral, your patient will be in our queue to review and schedule. Many services may have a long wait.
  • We encourage families to call 206-987-8080 to verify that we have received the referral. They can ask to be added to a cancellation list. The family will remain on the cancellation list until they get an appointment. When the family calls, we will be able to let them know the current wait time for the service they’ve been referred for.
  • As openings become available, we call families to schedule in the order the referral was received.
  • Patients can visit our What to Expect page for more information about their appointment
  • Patients can find resources and support.
  • Even if we do not have openings right away, there are many resources through Seattle Children’s and in the community that can help.

    Your patient may be able to take part in our research and clinical trials even if they have to wait for an appointment. To learn more about how to get involved, your patients can call 206-987-7917 or email us.

Resources for Providers

To suggest additional resources from Seattle Children’s that would be useful to primary care providers, please email us.