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Center for Autism and Intellectual Developmental Disabilities at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital

If you or your child have autism or an intellectual developmental disabilities, we can help. Your first step is an assessment to get an accurate diagnosis. Our center provides diagnostic and intervention services for children, adolescents, and adults of all ages.

You do not need a referral to go to the center. Anyone can request an assessment for their child or themselves. To make an appointment, call UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital at 1-877-624-4100 or 412-624-1000.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a broad range of conditions that starts in early childhood and affects how the brain develops. It often affects a person’s communication and social interaction skills. Autism affects about one out of every 44 children and one out of every 45 adults (ages 18+) in the United States.

Autism can involve mild, moderate, or severe challenges. Many autistic people also have unique strengths and intense interests. They may learn more easily than their peers. They may bring a different perspective to solving a problem. And they may excel in some aspects of their school or work lives.

Parents and doctors often start to notice signs or delays in intellectual development before a child turns age 3. For example, a child may not meet speech or other milestones. But it's also common for signs of autism to be unclear in early childhood. Sometimes, doctors diagnose children with other issues before diagnosing them as autistic. People can also be diagnosed as autistic later in life, even in adulthood.

In the autism community, many prefer to call themselves 'autistic' rather than say they have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or live with autism. We recognize that for many, autism is central to who they are and how they see the world. When you come to the Center for Autism and Intellectual Developmental Disabilities for care, we will respect and use the language you prefer.

Autism signs and symptoms

Some signs and symptoms of autism include:

  • Difficulties with social interaction.
  • Trouble picking up some social cues.
  • Intense, focused interests.
  • Repeated behaviors or movements, such as sorting objects or hand flapping.

Therapies in early childhood are often most effective. Therapies also can help older children and adults with their social, school, and work lives.

The goals of autism treatment will change across the lifespan.

Autism Programs and Services for Children and Adolescents

We assess and treat autistic children as early as 14 months of age. What sets us apart from most other centers is that we follow children into adolescence and adulthood.

Our diverse treatment team provides a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services for children, adolescents, and young adults. Our services include:

  • Diagnostic assessments.
  • Behavioral therapies.
  • Medication management.

We also support caregivers and families.

Our programs include:

Therapeutic Early Autism Program

Provides early intensive behavior intervention for children ages 2 to 5 in a daily preschool program. To learn more, call 412-713-0855.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention Program

Offers community-based services to autistic children. Treatment usually begins at home, then expands to school and community settings. To learn more, call 412-235-5315.

Conroy Intensive Treatment Program

A collaborative effort between UPMC Western and Pittsburgh Public Schools. Students participate 30 hours a week for the entire academic year. To learn more, call 412-335-7584.

Partnership with UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Our center also partners with UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which cares for autistic children and children with intellectual developmental disabilities who also have medical problems. UPMC Children's may offer your child:

  • Speech therapy.
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Support regarding gender and sexuality.

This team-based approach ensures all of your child's doctors stay updated on their progress and needs. We also work with schools and other training programs. We support and guide teachers on your child's unique learning needs.

Programs and Services for Autistic Adults and Those With Other Intellectual Developmental Disabilities

We offer a wide range of outpatient programs and services for autistic adults.

  • Assessments.
  • Medicine, if needed.
  • One-on-one, family, and group therapy.
  • Skills training.

Inpatient care also is available to autistic adults or those with other intellectual developmental disorders who have acute behavioral problems. Our goal during short-term hospital stays is stabilization and medicine management.

Why Choose the Center for Autism and Intellectual Developmental Disabilities at UPMC?

  • Whole person care. Our team cares for the whole person. This means we address the emotional, social, learning, and medical needs of each individual. And we help people in all aspects of their lives, regardless of age, including school and work.
  • Family friendly. Our center is family friendly. We provide a calm setting for people with sensory challenges.
  • Autism resources. We are affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. We are the only program in Pennsylvania to benefit from the resources of a top 10 academic program.
  • Our autism experts and research. We are a top-funded program, including recognition as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Autism Center of Excellence. We attract world-renowned experts who conduct life-changing research and provide the latest evidence-based care.

Autism Care Network

We are part of the well-known and well-respected Autism Care Network — a group of 20 leading autism treatment and research centers across North America.

Our center works with other experts in the network to:

  • Share data and best practices to diagnose autism more quickly.
  • Work to improve treatments and family support.
  • Partner with autistic people and their families to focus our research and support on areas that mean the most to them.

Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training (ASERT)

Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the ASERT initiative:
  • Educates teachers, family members, and others about autism.
  • Provides training and leadership opportunities for autistic people.
  • Gathers data to improve autism services across the state.

Western’s goal as one of three ASERT partners in Pennsylvania is to support ASERT's mission. We work with other hospitals, colleges, and community-based autism service providers to support Pennsylvania’s autism community.

Regulation of Emotion in ASD Adults, Children, and Teens (REAACT) Program at the Center for Excellence in Autism Research (CeFAR)

Funded by federal and foundation grants, REAACT is a research program that:
  • Focuses on emotion regulation and mental health in autism.
  • Includes people across the lifespan, from early childhood through adulthood.
  • Conducts many types of studies, including neuroimaging or physiological studies.
  • Is home to an NIH Autism Center of Excellence grant on mental health and thoughts of suicide in autistic adults.
  • Provides training to early career researchers from undergraduates through junior faculty in a variety of disciplines.
  • Brings together autism researchers across the University of Pittsburgh, including basic scientists and clinical researchers.

Training for Early Career Autism Clinicians and Researchers

Western is dedicated to training the next generation of clinicians and researchers focused on autism. We share best practices and promote autism research that we can apply to our programs.

  • Western Psychiatric clinical psychology predoctoral internship.
  • Many informal and formal research training programs.
  • Training for medical students and residents in research.
  • Training for clinical psychology predoctoral interns.
  • NIH T-32 postdoctoral training grants.

Need Care for Yourself or Someone You Love? Contact Us

For a mental health emergency, call 988.

For an appointment near you, call Western Behavioral Health’s main phone number at 1-877-624-4100 or 412-624-1000.

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital
3811 O’Hara St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Call 412-624-1000 or toll free 1-877-624-4100.

Are you a resident of Allegheny County and in crisis?

Call our resolve Crisis Services at 1-888-796-8226. It’s free and open 24/7.

Or go to the resolve Crisis Services walk-in clinic:

333 North Braddock Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide or self-harm:

Text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or call 800-273-8255.

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