Autism Center

Treatments and Services

Seattle Children's is known nationally for innovative research and high-quality care for children and teens with autism spectrum disorder. We offer a wide range of treatments and services, including classes for families.

Our goal is to give your child or teen complete and coordinated care and help them transition to adult services when the time is right. We work closely with experts in other specialties at Seattle Children's to assess and treat your child, including Neurodevelopmental, Neurosciences, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Sleep Medicine, Epilepsy, Genetics, Gastroenterology and others.

Services We Provide

Diagnostic autism evaluation

If your child does not already have a diagnosis of autism, we assess children 15 months to 21 years old. We work with you on a care plan to meet your child’s health, behavior and learning needs. Our staff will connect you with treatment and support services at Seattle Children’s and in the community. Learn more about getting a diagnostic evaluation.

Due to the high demand for this service, we do not provide re-evaluations or second opinions. Here are resources that may provide a re-evaluation:

Accessing Treatment, Learning and Support (ATLAS)

This class is the first step to receiving care at Seattle Children’s Autism Center. If your child has an autism diagnosis and a provider referred them to the Autism Center (not to a specific service, like our Pediatric Feeding Program or Psychiatric and Medication Consultation Clinic), our ATLAS class will help you learn about and access a wide range of services at Seattle Children’s and in the community.

After this class, your family will be able to take our other classes and get support to sign up for services that may benefit your child and your family.

In this 90-minute class, you will:

  • Identify and prioritize your child’s and family’s needs.
  • Learn about the services offered through the Autism Center and in the community.
  • Create a care-planning roadmap to guide your next steps.

During the class, you will have the chance to meet other caregivers, discuss what you learned and ask questions of an autism expert.

ATLAS is offered in English only. If you prefer to get care in another language or if you are not able to attend ATLAS, let us know. Our team will help you find another way to get care at the Autism Center or in the community.

Learn more about ATLAS (PDF).

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Early Intervention Program

We offer a program to help children with autism up to age 6 using evidence-based therapy called applied behavior analysis, or ABA. We teach skills to increase positive behaviors (like communicating) and reduce challenging behaviors (like tantrums). The program is 4 days a week for 12 weeks, either morning or afternoon. This program is only open to families covered by Apple Health (Medicaid).

While your child gets high-quality therapy, you and other caregivers learn new ways to communicate with your child and support behavior changes. Learn more about our ABA Early Intervention Program.

Therapies for challenging behaviors

To help children and teens with autism with challenging behaviors, we use applied behavior analysis, or ABA. We work with you 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 our therapies for challenging behaviors.

Parent education and support

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, listed below, can help you understand your child’s diagnosis and the therapies we provide.
  • Our Family Resource team can connect you to parent groups and other families to share experiences and hope. We can also help you figure out the complex service systems for families with autism. To learn more, please reach out to the Family Resource team by email.
  • We share resources at Seattle Children’s and in the community to help you and your child understand autism and participate in treatment.

Pediatric Feeding Program

We assess and treat children ages 1 to 18, with or without autism, who need team-based care for complex feeding concerns. This includes 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 our Pediatric Feeding Program.

Developmental Care Consultation

A medical provider is available to help address developmental issues associated with autism. A visit includes a review of your child’s medical history and their current development, therapies and supports. Every child with autism is different, so we will discuss goals just for your child. Our medical providers can help with a range of questions and concerns, such as sleep, toileting, school difficulties and delays in communication or social development that may affect your child.

This visit is different from our Psychiatric and Medication Consultation Clinic for children who may need medicine or other treatment for psychiatric concerns. The autism medical care consultation does not include standardized cognitive and behavioral assessments.

Psychiatric and Medication Consultation Clinic

We evaluate psychiatric concerns (such as anxiety, depression, focus, impulsivity and behavior) in children and teens who have autism or other neurodevelopmental conditions. We assess whether medicines or other treatment options could help your child. We will talk with you about the potential benefits, limits and risks of each option. If you and your child’s healthcare team decide medicine is a good choice, we will help your child get started.

Autism Mood and Anxiety Program

We offer short-term treatment that works for significant anxiety (that gets in the way of daily life) for autistic children and adolescents.

  • The Facing Your Fears Group: An 11-session group-based program addresses anxiety for children and teens ages 8 to 14 who have autism spectrum disorder. The program is for the child and their parents or caregivers. Sessions are held in person one day a week for 90 minutes at Seattle Children's Magnuson.

Learn more about Facing Your Fears Group.

If your child needs services, ask their provider to refer you to the Autism Mood and Anxiety Program.

Specialized Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Consultation Service (SNACS)

Some children struggle with learning, behavior or development because of exposure to alcohol or other substances before they were born (prenatal exposures). The SNACS clinic offers 3 to 5 visits with a provider who specializes in evaluating and creating a care plan for children with these concerns. Our providers:

  • Evaluate your child for problems they may face with attention, learning, memory, behavior, social skills and other areas of development.
  • Help you understand your child’s diagnosis and development, including finding out if your child has a diagnosis related to prenatal exposures, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
  • Talk with you about your family’s challenges and the services you and your child need.
  • Help figure out how to get services at school or in the community.
  • Suggest ways to work with your child at home to help prevent problem behaviors.

Learn more about SNACS (PDF) (Spanish).

Autism Gender Clinic

Adolescents and teens with autism identify as gender diverse more often than other adolescents and teens. Our team cares for youth with autism who question their gender identity, are transgender or are gender nonconforming and for their families.

Our multidisciplinary team assesses if your adolescent is ready to begin gender-affirming care, and we provide behavioral health services to help as they explore their gender identity and transition path. As we consider treatment options, we consider your child’s age, stage of puberty, desired future treatments, support systems and any health problems they may have. We also work closely with the experts at Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic to coordinate care.

Adult transition services

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:

Please talk to your Autism Center provider for more information or a referral to transition support.

Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center

The Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center offers year-round classes and activities for adults 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. Experts on different topics 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.

Classes and Groups

List of classes that do not require a referral

These classes are open to anyone.

  • 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 information 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 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 young people with autism.
  • Finding Mental Health Care in Washington State: A Class on Where to Start
    Free 60-minute monthly class 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.
  • Legal Transitions to Adulthood
    Free, on-demand video 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
    Free, online classes to help parents and caregivers learn to cope more effectively with uncertainty and stress. Created by a team of parent leaders and partners from Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and the Arc of King County.

List of classes that require a referral

To attend these classes, first attend our ATLAS class (PDF) or ask your child’s primary care provider for a referral. All classes are by telehealth (virtual).

  • Autism Resource Classes
    • Applying for DDA
      This 60-minute class covers what the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is, what services DDA offers, how to apply for DDA benefits and tips for navigating and making the most of DDA services.
    • Finding ABA
      This 60-minute class covers what applied behavior analysis is, how to access it and how to get services authorized by insurance.
    • Mental Health Services for Autism
      This 60-minute class covers mental health in autism and how to support your child’s mental health; mental health services options and how to get connected; and caregiver mental health supports.
    • Navigating School Supports
      This 60-minute class covers how to get special education services; understanding IEPs and preparing for an IEP meeting; an overview of community resources that can support with school related challenges; and resources at Seattle Children’s.
    • Washington State Autism Resources
      This 60-minute class provides a general overview of the top autism resources in Washington state. The class covers patient and family resources at the Autism Center; community resources and organizations that can support your family; parent and caregiver support and connection opportunities; and social skill groups, summer camps and adult day programs.
  • Autism Health Education Classes (PDF)
    • ADHD/ADD and Autism
      This 90-minute class covers the symptoms of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that overlap; how to talk to your provider about concerns related to attention and hyperactivity; and treatment options for symptoms related to ADHD/attention deficit disorder (ADD).
    • Constipation and Autism
      This 90-minute class covers constipation and what causes it; how constipation can affect children with autism; and how to recognize, treat and prevent it.
    • Sleep Problems and Autism
      This 90-minute class covers the basics of sleep; common sleep concerns and their most common cause; and strategies you can use to help your child (and the rest of the family) get better sleep.
  • Anxiety and Autism
    This 3-part class series (90-minute sessions each) covers what anxiety for youth on the autism spectrum might look like; an overview of evidence-based treatment for anxiety and strategies parents and caregivers can use at home; how to find a provider; and resources to help with anxiety.
  • Behavior and Autism
    This 90-minute class covers how to better understand the reasons for your child’s behaviors and how to develop targeted strategies that support your child around common behavioral challenges.
  • Early Communication and Autism (PDF)
    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. Class meets for 90 minutes once a week for 3 weeks.

    The focus will be on learning foundational skills for building early language and communication skills; goals and strategies to help your child build skills in areas important for speech and language, including play, imitation, shared attention and sensory regulation; and tools (including alternative and augmentative communication, or AAC) to support your child's understanding of language and expressive communication.
  • Feeding Foundations: Caregiver Education Class With the Pediatric Feeding Program (PDF)
    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; things that contribute to or influence feeding difficulties; how feeding challenges can emerge or continue over time; and practical first steps toward expanding your child’s diet and meal participation.
  • First Steps: New Diagnosis of Autism
    This 90-minute class is for caregivers whose child or teen was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and focuses on defining autism spectrum disorder so that caregivers better understand ASD characteristics that are present in their child. The class also covers common treatment recommendations for autism.
  • Next Steps: Transitioning to Adulthood for Youth With Autism (PDF)
    Next Steps is a 3-part class series designed to provide information and support caregivers of youth with autism who are ages 15 to 21 and transitioning to adulthood. We offer 2 versions of this class:
    • Steps to Independence
      Designed for parents and caregivers of youth who may have plans to go to college, work and live independently
    • Lifelong Learning
      Designed for parents and caregivers of youth who will need ongoing support, guardianship disability and other support services
  • Toileting and Autism
    This 90-minute class covers the unique toilet-training needs of people with autism; common pitfalls in toilet training; and the basics of how to toilet train using behavioral interventions.

List of groups that require a referral

  • Facing Your Fears Group (PDF)
    This 11-session group-based program addresses anxiety for children and teens ages 8 to 14 who have autism spectrum disorder. The program is for the child and their parents or caregivers. Sessions are held one day a week for 90 minutes at Seattle Children's Autism Center.

Services We Do Not Provide

The only type of evaluation we provide is an initial diagnostic autism evaluation. Here are resources for other types of evaluations you may be looking for:

  • Psychoeducational evaluation (such as a dyslexia or learning disorder evaluation). Talk with your child’s school about a special-education evaluation or services that might help.
  • Comprehensive neuropsychology evaluation (such as for processing speed, working memory or cognitive skills). Seattle Children’s Neuropsychology clinic provides this kind of testing and evaluation.  
  • Parenting evaluations for legal purposes, such as developing parenting plans. Visit the Parenting Evaluation Treatment Program (PETP) Graduates web page for a list of trained providers in the community. 
  • School evaluations after suspension or expulsion. Contact your child’s school for a list of providers who do “return to school” evaluations.

We offer consultation and short-term treatment at our clinic or by telehealth. Here are resources that may be helpful if you are seeking long-term or in-home services:

Contact Us

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.