Treatments and Services
Seattle Children's is known nationally for innovative research and high-quality care for children with autism spectrum disorder. We offer a wide range of treatments and services.
Services We Provide
We assess children from 16 months through early adulthood to see if they have autism. We work with you on a care plan to meet your child’s needs related to their health, behavior and learning. Our staff will help connect you with treatment and support services at Seattle Children’s and in the community. Learn more about diagnostic evaluation.
We offer an intensive short-term program to help young children with autism. We teach skills to increase positive behaviors (like communicating) and reduce challenging behaviors (like tantrums). Kids up to age 6 attend our program 5 days a week for 12 weeks, either morning or afternoon. We use evidence-based therapy called applied behavior analysis (ABA).
While your child gets high-quality therapy, you and other caregivers learn new ways to communicate with your child and how to support behavior changes. We talk with you about services your child needs and how to find them. Learn more about our ABA Early Intervention Program.
To help children and teens with autism change problem behaviors, we use evidence-based therapy called applied behavior analysis. We work with parents and other caregivers to assess how your child acts and the purpose of their behavior. For example, the behavior might get your child something they want, like attention. Or it might help your child avoid something they do not want, like a noisy classroom. We work with you to teach your child behaviors that can serve the same purpose without causing problems. Learn more about therapies for challenging behaviors.
An autism diagnosis is life changing. But you are not alone. At each stage of your child’s journey, we offer education, referrals and support. Our goal is to help you become a confident advocate for your child.
- Our classes help you understand your child’s diagnosis and the therapies we provide.
- We help you figure out the complex service systems for families with autism.
- Our Family Resource Team can connect you to parent groups and other families to share experiences and hope.
- We link you to resources in the Autism Center and in the community.
Our Feeding Program assesses and treats children age 1 to 13, with or without autism. We help children who struggle with eating and drinking in ways that put their health at risk or seriously affect how they behave at mealtimes. Learn more about the Pediatric Feeding Program.
We consult on medicine as an option for children and teens who are diagnosed with autism or related neurodevelopmental conditions. We will assess if medicines could help your child. We will talk with you and your child about potential benefits, limitations and risks. We also discuss options besides medicine. If you and your child’s healthcare team decide medicine is a good choice, we will work with you and your child to start using the medicine and adjust it as needed.
Our speech and language pathologists (SLPs) play a key role in identifying and helping kids with autism. We are on the teams that treat children who have challenging behaviors, feeding problems and trouble using words to express themselves. We help children and families build communication skills through parent classes and the ABA Early Intervention Program. For full communication assessments and services, we refer patients to Speech and Language Services on our hospital campus.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) means the ways people express themselves without speaking. These include gestures, signs, pictures and mobile technology such as a speech-generating device (SGD). AAC can help children who have trouble making known their wants, needs and ideas.
Our speech and language pathologists assess how your child communicates and figure out if AAC tools can help. We teach parents about AAC tool options. We train your child, family and caregivers so they can use AAC tools at home, at school and in the community.
Children and teens with autism identify as gender diverse more than other children and teens. Our team cares for youth with autism who question their gender identity or are transgender or gender nonconforming. We also support families on this journey.
Our team includes experts from many specialties. We provide readiness assessments and behavioral health services to help as your child explores their gender identity and transition path. As we consider treatment options, we account for your child’s age, stage of puberty, desired future treatments, support systems and any health problems they may have. We work closely with experts at Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic to coordinate care.
We offer evidence-based therapy to children and teens with autism who also have mental health conditions. Our therapists work with youth one-on-one and in groups. We help with conditions such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders
To treat these conditions, we use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), such as:
- Exposure with response prevention (E/RP)
- Comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT)
- Behavioral activation therapy (BAT)
If your child needs services, ask their provider to refer you to the Autism Mood and Anxiety Program.
Our team offers short-term consultation. We are experts in the various ways certain rare genetic changes linked to autism affect how a child functions. We assess your child and their medical records during 3 or 4 visits, often on the same day. We give you a full report and recommend treatment options for your child. Learn more about the Rare Autism-Related Genetic Consultation Clinic.
Some children have problems with learning or behavior because they were exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. These kids may have brain-based problems that make everyday life hard. We assess children to decide if they have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, autism or another condition.
During 3 to 5 visits, we:
- Help you understand your child’s diagnosis and problems they may face with learning
- Talk about your family’s challenges and the services you need
- Help figure out how to get those services at school or in the community
- Suggest ways to work with your child at home to help prevent problem behaviors
Our social skills groups are for children, teens and young adults who are patients in our Autism Center. Many groups also offer a parent group that meets at the same time to help practice these new skills at home. Ask your Autism Center provider to refer you.
- PEERS helps teens in middle and high school make and keep friends and improve their conversation skills.
- Facing Your Fears is for kids 8 to 14 years who are verbally fluent and have trouble with anxiety.
- The Man Group helps guys ages 15 to 20 who are gaining independence and want to meet other teens and expand their peer groups.
We support teens and young adults with autism and their families as they get ready for the next stage of life. What’s next depends on the goals and needs of each person and their family. It may mean learning about guardianship, applying for state or federal programs or exploring education options.
We help by:
- Connecting you to programs for adults with autism. These include the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center and UW Medicine Adult Autism Clinic.
- Giving lectures on transition as part of our Autism 200 education series. You can attend in person, live-stream classes on Facebook or watch recordings later.
- Offering Autism: Next Steps (PDF), a class for parents and caregivers who have a child with autism age 15 to 21 who has received services from our Autism Center.
Please talk to your Autism Center provider for more information or a referral to transition support.
The Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center offers year-round classes and activities for adults age 18 or older with autism or other developmental disabilities. These services are a lifeline for young adults with autism, who may otherwise withdraw after the routine of school ends. Classes focus on social activities, recreation, health and wellness, independent living and work training. Topic experts teach classes with support from behavior specialists. The goal is to build on strengths, boost confidence, build social skills and promote lifelong learning. Read more about the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center.
Our Approach to Care
Our goal is to give your child complete and coordinated care and help them transition to adult services when the time is right. Our Autism Center is a mile west of Seattle Children's hospital campus. We work closely with experts in other specialties at Seattle Children's to assess and treat your child. These include:
- Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
- Sleep Disorders
If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider to refer you. Learn more about how to get services at the Autism Center.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.