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The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities offers comprehensive evaluation of patients’ cognitive, adaptive, social, and communication skills, providing the most advanced treatment plans for patients with autism.

Autism Care in One Collaborative Center

Autism is a developmental disorder that causes challenges with communication and social skills. It can range from mild to severe, but in all cases, early recognition and intervention can make a critical difference in a child’s development and quality of life.

The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD) is a joint program between UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center, with additional collaboration from the Callier Center for Communication Disorders. CADD combines all health professionals who evaluate and treat autism and other developmental disabilities into one clinical service, forming a single portal of entry for community providers and families. Providers work alongside leading scientists, using innovative approaches for understanding and treating neurodevelopmental disorders.

The Center delivers state-of-the-art medical care for autism and all other neurodevelopmental disabilities. This includes initial diagnostic evaluations and treatment planning, behavioral intervention for recently diagnosed children, treatment services by neurology providers, and psychiatric consultation for children and adolescents.

Symptoms of Autism

Autism affects every child differently. Some children have difficulty with social interactions or communication, while others might demonstrate repetitive or restrictive patterns of behavior.

Common signs of autism include:

  • Delayed language development
  • Reduced interest in social interaction
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Lack of response to other people
  • Repetitive behaviors and insistence on sameness
  • Motor mannerisms, such as flapping hands or repeatedly bouncing up and down
  • Sensory-seeking behaviors
  • Unusual sensitivities to sounds and touch

Parents or caregivers seeking an evaluation can get a referral to the Center from the child’s pediatrician.

Diagnosing Autism

Specialists from UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center evaluate patients suspected of having autism using expertise in:

  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychology
  • Speech and language

Our evaluations are comprehensive and look at cognitive, adaptive, social, and communication skills. We might ask the child to follow directions, answer questions, or play.

In addition, as part of a child’s evaluation process, we include relevant medical history because autism can also be associated with gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders, and epilepsy.

There is no specific test that can confirm autism. Diagnoses are made through a combination of formal clinical observation of children and information gathered from parents and other specialists/medical providers. Some children might be diagnosed as early as 18 months, but others might not be identified until they reach school age.

Treating Autism

There is no medicine that can cure autism, but through training and support, children can learn skills that will help them throughout their lives. The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities provides comprehensive treatment and support for children of all ages. Once autism is diagnosed, we help connect families to professionals in the field and coordinate a range of evidence-based treatments and interventions, which might include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Medications to help manage behavioral symptoms

Our services include:

  • Assessments in pediatric neurology with neurodevelopmental disabilities specialists
  • Behavioral intervention
  • Psychiatric consultation and treatment
  • Psychological evaluations and consultations
  • Educational support

Support Services

At the Center, our Resource Library offers educational information and access to online and community resources.

As part of our comprehensive patient care, CADD hosts an ongoing parent mindfulness support group for all parents and caregivers with children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This group is an opportunity for caregivers to learn strategies on mindfulness from our team and to share with one another in a comfortable, encouraging environment. 

Clinical Trials

We conduct research aimed at developing new knowledge about the genetics, neural mechanisms, and behavioral deficits associated with autism and other developmental disorders while testing new treatment strategies. Our research is designed to expedite drug discovery and improve patient care.


If you would like to make an appointment, please have your pediatrician complete a referral form and fax the form along with the necessary records to 214-867-5389.

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Children's Medical Center of Dallas

1935 Medical District Drive
Dallas, Texas 75235
214-730-5437 Directions