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Little boy playing toys at CDD

Autism starts when a child is very young. Children with an autism spectrum disorder have:

  • language that develops slowly or not at all
  • a lack of interest in social play, making eye contact, smiling, or cuddling
  • certain behaviors that are repeated or intense reactions to changes in routine

Children with autism 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, we know that autism spectrum disorder is more prevalent than we once thought. In Iowa alone, there are thousands of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Coordinating care between several specialists can be a complicated and overwhelming process, especially for families dealing with a new diagnosis. University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is here to make that process easier.

Coordinated Care

The UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Autism Center brings together a wide range of specialists to provide the best possible care for children with autism. We offer assessments, treatment recommendations, and ongoing follow-up care. We work hard to make your visits convenient and efficient, and we communicate with your family doctor or other health care providers to make sure everyone understands your child’s needs.


We offer the following clinical services:

  • Team evaluations for diagnosis: Determining whether your child has autism and providing treatment recommendations
  • Medication management: Recommending and adjusting medications used by children with autism
  • Behavior assessment: Identifying challenging behaviors, including feeding problems, and finding ways to help
  • Early intervention: Teaching play and communciations skills to young children with autism
  • Evaluating academic and learning problems, including intellectual disability
  • Evaluating speech and language, feeding, and sleep disorders
  • Evaluating daily living skills, such as eating, dressing, and walking
  • Evaluating assistive technology needs
  • Evaluating and treating 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.

Little boy smiling at camera at CDD

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 connect families to resources and support in their communities, including respite care and child care, 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:

  • Autism Center Brochure
  • What Is an Autism Spectrum Disorder?
  • I Think My Child May Have Autism...
  • Helpful Resources Before Your Child's Appointment
  • What to Expect When you Come to the Autism Center
  • What Is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

Education and Training

We provide autism education and training to parents, teachers, students, and doctors through seminars and conferences. We focus on early identification, help for challenging behaviors, and proven methods for treating 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 other 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.

Autism Research Opportunities

SPARK for Autism

Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK) aims to help scientists find and better understand the potential causes of autism. As part of this effort, we study DNA from people with autism and from their family members who may or may not have autism. We also study information about their health and things that can impact health like behavior and lifestyle. To succeed, SPARK needs many thousands of people with autism and their families to join. What we collect and learn will be shared with many autism researchers to help speed up the progress of autism research.

For more information

Contact us

Call: 1-319-335–8882


Support Groups

Project ImPACT

Improving Parents as Communication Teachers (Project ImPACT) is a 12- to 24-week intervention program designed to improve the social skills of young children who have an ASD.

Locations and Contact

  • Center for Disabilities and Development
    100 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • 1-855-842-8847
  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    Pappajohn Pavilion
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: Elevator I, Level 1
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • 1-855-842-8847