April is National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and the highest possible quality of life for all. People are encouraged to share their stories on online media with the hashtag #StandUpForAutism to join the conversation and educate and inspire others.

Toddler boyAutism spectrum disorder is a complex disorder that is typically diagnosed during early childhood through behaviors including, but not limited to, delayed language skills, difficulty making eye contact or holding conversation, planning and reasoning and more. Diagnosis is based on a full analysis of behaviors and severity.

Southwest Human Development’s Children’s Developmental Center specializes in working with the youngest children, ages birth to 5, providing assessment, diagnosis and intervention. Southwest Human Development is also part of the Southwest Autism Center for Excellence to help children establish a healthy foundation by preventing problems before they arise, or when they already exist, intervening as early and effectively as possible.

Early and accurate diagnosis and intervention can make the greatest difference, leading to significantly improved lifelong outcomes. The Children’s Developmental Center offers number of unique practices and approaches, including using a blended, transdisciplinary team model, to ensure that children receive the best care possible. This team includes speech, physical and occupational therapists, care coordinators, psychologists, dieticians, developmental specialists, assistive technology specialists and a pediatrician.

One Child, One Family, One Team 

When diagnosing a developmental disability, the Children’s Developmental Center uses “a one child, one family, one team” approach that includes a team of experts who meet the family, consider the child as a whole, as well as the parents’ priorities, when developing a recommended plan. The team of experts meet regularly to ensure that all care is coordinated and customized to the needs of children and family.

A Relationship-Based Approach

The center uses a relationship-based approach to autism, which uses communicative methods that can help children better play, enjoy back-and-forth communication, feel calm, and become more flexible in solving problems and handling new situations. The method also helps children learn to cope with their environment varying sounds, sights and textures. A relationship-based approach often results in strengthening skills that help children thrive at home, at school and in the community.


The Children’s Developmental Center practices DIRFloortime®, an evidence-based intervention that helps parents and caregivers to understand and promote a child’s social-emotional, language and cognitive development. Through play-based interactions and relationships, the child develops relating, communicating and thinking skills to support their full learning potential.

For more information about Southwest Human Development’s autism services, please call (602) 468-3430 or email coe@swhd.org.

DIRFloortime® is a registered trademark of the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning, Inc.