Sioux FallsRapid City

Autism Care

Call 605-444-9700 in Sioux Falls or 605-791-7400 in Rapid City to schedule a free autism screening, available for children three years and under - or to get information on a full autism evaluation. (Full evaluations require a doctor's order, and are covered by insurance.) Full Autism Evaluation 

Children's Care Hospital and School provides care for children with autism in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and everywhere in between. As a leading South Dakota autism care provider, our focus remains on the child throughout all stages of autism spectrum disorder treatment.    

Services include occupational and speech therapy, social skills groups, and feeding and sensory processing treatments.  In Sioux Falls, school and residential options are also available.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that impacts the development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills and learning. Listed under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders for the purposes of diagnosis, autism is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The definition of autism spectrum disorder, causes, symptoms and characteristics is listed below.

Autism currently affects an estimated 1 in 150 births (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007), making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and religious groups, and autism is four times more likely to affect boys than girls. Family income, lifestyle and education also have no affect the on occurrence of autism

Autism impairs a person's functioning in three distinct areas: Behavior, Communication and Socialization. The behavior characteristics of autism are many times associated with obsessive- and compulsive-like repetitive behaviors, such as lining up items or spinning objects. Individuals with autism may adhere to strict routines and have problems with change or transition. More severe behaviors including aggression and self-injury may also be exhibited. In the area of communication, both verbal and non-verbal communication is affected with some children never developing vocal language. Sign language and picture communication systems are used to augment language development. Socially, children may treat people as objects, many times preferring to be alone rather than engage in social interaction with family and classmates. Symptoms of autism can range from very mild to quite severe and typically appear during the first 3 years of life.

Children's Care Hospital and School in Sioux Falls has a diverse team of trained professionals who have specialized training in administrating comprehensive evaluations to diagnose or rule out autism. Our Autism Evaluation team is comprised of a pediatric psychiatrist, school psychologist, speech language pathologist, and occupational therapist, who have many combined years of Helping children with Autism in Sioux Falls and Rapid Cityexperience in assessing and developing treatment programs for children with autism spectrum disorders.

 There are many treatment options for individuals with autism. Most individuals with autism respond very well to highly structured, consistent environments of instruction. Most research indicates that intensive behavioral intervention holds the most promise. Further, the earlier a child receives treatment, the more likely the child will be to make significant improvement. Instructional approaches to autism should treat all areas affected by the disorder; socialization, communication, and behavior. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is recognized by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as treatment for autism spectrum disorders. 

According to The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), revised in 2004, states are required to provide all eligible children with a free and appropriate public education. The law entitles children with disabilities to a free and appropriate education from the time of birth through age 21. Research indicates that children who begin to receive services at very early ages, preferably before age 2 ½ or 3 years, show the most progress and lasting improvements. For children with autism, research indicates those who receive early and intensive intervention can experience great improvement in their quality of life. There are nearly 50 years of research that indicate that early intervention increases educational and developmental growth of children; assists families; and provides long term benefits to society. According to Catherine Lord at the University of Michigan, the best way to deal with autism is to intervene as early as possible. Applied Behavior Analysis programs have been shown to provide much success when compared with other early intervention programs. In June 2007 the journal Exceptional Children reported that a one-year long study funded by the Surrey-based South East Regional Special Educational Needs Partnership suggests that children with Autism spectrum disorders have greater success with Applied Behavior Analysis approaches than with other commonly offered types of early intervention programs. The study looked at gains in intellectual, educational, and adaptive behavior. The children educated with applied behavior analytic programs showed more success than those in other intervention programs. Services for in-home autism therapy in Sioux Falls, South Dakota are available through Children's Care.

Unlike other childhood disorders, there is no blood test, scan, no image that can detect the incidence of autism. Diagnosis relies entirely on behavioral observation and screening. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders identifies three distinctive characters seen in autism: difficulty in social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted or stereotypical patterns of behavior, interests, and/or activities.

While doctors and researchers now know more about autism than ever before, many questions still remain unanswered. Over the past few years, there has been evidence to suggest that genetics may play a big role in the development of autism. Research by the National Institute of Health indicates that some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing the disorder. Some researchers hypothesize that individuals are born with a predisposition to autism that is set off by "a trigger" event in the environment. 

Some individuals believe that Thimerosal, a preservative found in childhood vaccines, causes autism. While many parents report a correlation between receiving vaccinations and the onset of autism, medical experts increasingly doubt that theory and much research has been conducted that disputes this theory. Further, even though the chemical has been removed from virtually all vaccinations, the incidence of autism continues to increase. 

There is no cure for autism, as a result, many unproven alternative therapies are often suggested to parents who-frustrated by the lack of effective medical treatments, try to find anything that will help their child. In clinical studies, the alternative therapies are usually found to be ineffective and sometimes harmful. Although no cure exists for autism, early behavioral and educational interventions do help children with autism to improve.

News Recources:
January/February 2008 M.D. News - After the Autism Screening: Next Steps for a Child Who May Be at Risk

Click the links below for more information on Autism:

Autism Case Studies: (click links below to preview documents)
          Early Intervention study, Behavioral Interventions

          Lighting the Way
          2011 AEYC Conference

For more information about the leading autism provider for Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and all of South Dakota, contact us today!


"We are so pleased with the help Children's Care has offered our family. The skills they have taught Matthew will help him not only in Kindergarten, but for the rest of his life. I would recommend the In-Home Behavior Therapy program for anyone with a child who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder."
– Cindy S., Parent
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Autism Care
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Inpatient Treatment Options
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Birth to 3
Experienced Staff
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
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