Autism Program

Comprehensive Autism Services

ChildServe’s Autism Program offers a comprehensive range of services for children or young adults who display characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Our pediatric specialists evaluate, diagnose, and treat children and young adults. We help families find and understand resources related to their child’s needs. Behavioral support techniques for children with ASD are interwoven throughout our program. We provide referrals and recommendations about behavior support plans, communication techniques, and environmental supports.

Why choose ChildServe?

Advanced Training
ChildServe specialists have advanced training regarding ASD. They complete special competencies to ensure the best care possible for each child we serve.
Standardized Testing
We use standardized testing tools from psychological, occupational and speech disciplines to evaluate many levels of a child’s functioning.
Multi-disciplinary Team
Our multi-disciplinary team provides a continuum of care to meet the needs of families and children.
Personalized Care
Parents play an important role in helping their child grow and learn new skills. At ChildServe, we partner with families to provide outstanding, personalized care.
Child smiling in a ball pit.

Who We Serve

ChildServe’s Autism Program supports children and young adults who have a diagnosis of ASD, or who demonstrate common behaviors of ASD.

Autism Day Health

Our Autism Day Health program is the only one of its kind in Iowa. We offer specialized weekday care for children with ASD (ages two through six years old). Children receive positive behavioral support from staff along with occupational, speech, and physical therapy on-site during the day to promote overall health and development.

Children in the Autism Day Health program participate in evidenced-based treatments focused on their needs, abilities, and goals. We use the STAR curriculum (Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research), which is designed for children with ASD. The research-supported, ABA-based components of STAR align with therapy goals identified on each child’s plan and include systematic skill-building lessons and progress tracking. Research shows that children who receive early intervention for ASD have improved long-term outcomes in goal areas like independence and meaningful relationships.

Autism Day Health is offered at ChildServe in Ames, Iowa City and Johnston.

Autism Intensives

ChildServe offers Autism Intensives to children (ages two through six years old) who display characteristics of ASD. Speech and occupational therapists provide intensive early intervention therapy three times a week for 12 weeks. Children work to improve communication or daily living skill goals. Our pediatric specialists help families find and understand resources related to their child’s needs. Children do not have to be eligible for Medicaid to receive this service.

Diagnostic Clinic

The Diagnostic Clinic at ChildServe provides evaluations and diagnoses for ASD. Our pediatric psychologists work alongside occupational and speech therapists to provide families with education, referrals, and recommendations regarding their child. The specialists at ChildServe use the assessments to create individualized comprehensive reports that help children thrive in school, home, and life. Our team then recommends treatment plans for a variety of mental health or cognitive concerns.

Family Education & Support

Navigating services for a child with ASD can be difficult. ChildServe’s pediatric specialists provide feedback, guidance, and resources to help parents and educators understand a child’s condition. We partner with families to find the right programming, resources, and funding options that children need to thrive.
Educational Resources
Our Medical Social Workers are available for guidance, family advocacy, and referral support. The Family Resource Library at ChildServe in Johnston, as well as our community and clinical trainings, provide families the opportunity to increase their knowledge about caring for a child with ASD.
Supported Community Living (SCL)
In ChildServe‘s SCL program, children and young adults learn communication systems that help their relationships with parents, siblings, and teachers. They participate in activities of their interest, receive support to interact with their community, and prepare to take on new challenges. SCL supports families by helping children with autism to become more independent and improve their communication abilities.
Parent Coaching
Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers) is an evidence-based program that teaches parents to promote their child’s social-communication skills during daily routines and activities.
Family Support
ChildServe Respite offers families a break from the day-to-day demands of caring for a child with ASD. ChildServe’s respite service allows parents to attend events for their other children, schedule appointments for themselves, or simply take time to recharge. Meanwhile, our caretakers help kids safely do the things they love in individual or group settings.

Life Skills Programming

ChildServe helps teens and young adults with ASD (ages 14-21 years old) make the transition to adulthood by building independence. Through supported, interactive activities, young adults learn daily living skills, employment skills, and job acquisition skills through group or individual therapy sessions. We use evidence-based LINKS Curriculum to teach functional routines and expressive/receptive language skills. Our specialists partner with parents to develop individualized plans and goals for each young adult.

Medical Nutrition Therapy

Children and young adults with ASD may struggle with eating a healthy diet due to sensory difficulties. Our Feeding and Swallowing Clinic uses the SOS Approach to Feeding to assess and treat children with feeding difficulties. Our therapists focus on helping children feel safe exploring and learning about foods with different textures, tastes, smells, and consistencies. We also provide consultations on specialty diet options.

Outpatient Therapy

Providing physical, occupational, and speech therapy to children with ASD is different than providing the same therapies to children who are not on the autism spectrum. ChildServe therapists have advanced autism training, and our programs and facilities are well-suited for treating children with ASD. Our special sensory gyms make it easier for children with ASD to focus and thrive at therapy in a controlled environment.

Social Group Programming

When developing communication skills, practice is key to success. ChildServe offers children a safe space to build skills in social groups led by occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists. Children of all ages benefit from our 12-week group sessions made to increase communication skills and confidence. A typical group size includes three to six children.

Research Partners

ChildServe’s Autism Program joins in local and regional ASD research projects to help researchers gain a better understanding of the genetic causes of autism and identify the most effective ways to intervene. This includes finding the best treatment techniques, targets, and delivery models. We partner with research groups to provide data. In turn, the research groups report to the government about the need for more access to qualified services in our state and across the nation.

Our Team of Specialists

ChildServe’s Autism Program team includes the following positions:
Licensed Psychologist
Licensed Mental Health Professional
Speech Therapist
Occupational Therapist

Vincent’s Story

When Vincent began attending Autism Day Health a year and a half ago, he was a totally different child. His parents Grant and Jennifer watched Vincent’s life change for the better once he started receiving support from the experts at ChildServe.

Maverick’s Story

Just months after Maverick started attending Autism Day Health, Krissy saw tremendous improvement in her son.

Michael’s Story

When most children are 18 months old, they are just starting to learn to communicate. When Michael reached this age, he stopped trying to communicate entirely.

Chloe’s Story

For many parents of children with special healthcare needs, the hardest times can be the ones before the diagnosis. This was the case for Mindi and her daughter, Chloe. After years of searching for an answer, ChildServe helped Mindi find one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get started?
Referrals can be made by the child’s parent/guardian, physicians, case managers, therapists, or other members of the child’s care team. To make a referral or request more information about one of our programs, use the contact form below.
Where are the services provided?

Our Autism Program offers the following services and locations:

  • Autism Day Health: Johnston, Ames and Iowa City
  • Autism Intensives: Johnston
  • Diagnostic Clinic: Johnston
  • Life Skills: Johnston
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy: Johnston
  • Outpatient Therapy: Johnston, Ames and Iowa City
  • Social Groups: Johnston
When are services provided?
Autism Services are available throughout the day, early evening hours, and at times on the weekend by appointment.

Contact Us!

ChildServe – Johnston
5406 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, IA 50131
ChildServe – Ames
1915 Philadelphia Street, Ames, IA 50010
ChildServe – Iowa City
2350 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville, IA 52241
If you would like to make a referral, or if you have additional questions, please use the contact form below.

ChildServe Center - Johnston

ChildServe Center - Ames

ChildServe Center - Iowa City


ChildServe improves the health and well-being of more than 4,600 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, acquired injuries, and other special healthcare needs.

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