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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

UCLA introduces new assessment protocol for Autism Spectrum Disorders


UCLA’s Autism Evaluation Clinic has developed a new assessment protocol that draws on the expertise of specialists in child psychology; speech, language and occupational therapy; and pediatric neurology. The multidisciplinary team evaluates each child and incorporates the latest research findings into clinical practice.

Autism, the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically appears in the first three years of life and is characterized by impairment in communication and social skills. Autism often can be diagnosed as early as two years of age, but may be elusive to general practitioners because of common misconceptions about autism and the variability of its features and development. The UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic evaluates children beginning at 18 months through adulthood.

UCLA’s extensive evaluation process includes:

  • complete psychosocial history
  • developmental and cognitive assessments
  • play and behavioral evaluations
  • emotional and adaptive functioning assessments
  • classroom observations, when geographically feasible and appropriate
  • appraisal of school records and teachers’ reports
  • speech and language assessments
  • pediatric neurology assessment as necessary

Based on the information gathered, a comprehensive report is compiled, including recommendations for behavioral treatment and educational programs. The report can be submitted to the child’s school or to the Regional Center. In addition, referrals can be provided to UCLA pediatric specialists in psychiatry, allergy immunology and gastrointestinal disorders.

Research seeks answers

In the five-plus decades since autism was first described, much has changed in the diagnosis and treatment of the syndrome. Ongoing research seeks to better understand the behavioral, biological, genetic and neurological basis of autism that can lead to more effective treatments.

UCLA’s Autism Evaluation Clinic is one of eight National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers of Excellence in autism research, and the only such center in California. The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment was established in 2003 as part of the NIH Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) program. The funding initiative for the center grew primarily from the efforts of parent advocacy organizations that recognized the importance of more research.

For more information about the clinic, the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) and the clinical research programs in which families can participate, visit: http://www.autism.ucla.edu.

Team members

Daniel H Geschwind M.D., Ph.D.
UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment Director

Sarah Spence, M.D., Ph.D.
Pediatric Neurologist
Medical Director/UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic

Pegeen Cronin, Ph.D.
Child Psychologist
Associate Director/UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic

Sarah Clifford, SLP
Speech and Language Therapist

Caroline Lee, SLP
Speech and Language Therapist

Jody Saltzman, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology

Helena Johnson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology

Ellie Klein
Clinic Coordinator

How to refer a patient

Referrals for evaluation are accepted from physicians, schools officials, social workers and parents. After parents complete an appointment packet, children referred for evaluation can be seen on an immediate basis. Call (310) 794-4008 to obtain a packet and schedule an appointment

Autism Evaluation Clinic
300 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 1261
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6967

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