NADD U.S. Policy Update (from the NADD Bulletin Volume XII Number 5)

Complete listing

The TEAM Centers Autism Spectrum Clinic Chattanooga, Tennessee


Karen Weigle, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Services, The TEAM Centers, Inc. and Steven Altabet, Ph.D., Clinic Director, UW Autism Center Tacoma


One in six children is diagnosed with a developmental or behavioral disorder in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control states that over one in 166 children are currently diagnosed with autism.  Many individuals with autism also have behavioral health needs. TEAM Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Clinic in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a multidisciplinary center designed to serve individuals of all ages, and with any degree of severity, who require specialized autism services.


One or all of the following services may be accessed to meet the individual's needs.


Assessment Services -The assessments offered at the Autism Spectrum Clinic are multi-faceted, consisting of Psychological and Speech/Language Evaluations, as well as Occupational and Physical Therapy assessments if determined necessary during the initial intake interview. Evaluations are available for all ages.


Service Coordination - Any individuals diagnosed with an ASD are eligible for Service Coordination.  The Service Coordinator meets with families to conduct an assessment of the client's strengths and needs and to help create a treatment plan with the family.  The treatment plan may include therapy services within the TEAM Centers, or referral to professionals outside of TEAM, as well as community services available in a family's geographical area.  The Service Coordinator will meet with families on an ongoing basis to assess treatment progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed to address the evolving needs of the client and family.  


Treatment Services -- Several treatment options are available, including, but not limited to the following:


General Family/Caregiver Training -This training gives the families an understanding of how the person with ASD perceives their world, how they learn, and how to set up the person's environment. It also helps the families gain an understanding of the relevant health issues associated with ASD.


Specific Therapy and Medical Services - These services provide advanced therapy or training in the specific clinical areas of: developmental medicine, speech and language pathology, physical and occupational therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, family therapy, social skills training, and neuropsychiatry.  They are geared toward the client's age and developmental level. Specific therapy services are scheduled as needed and determined through the Strength/Needs Assessment and family/caregiver input.


Early Intervention Services (Ages 2-5 years) - All therapies at this level involve both the child and parent/caregiver.  The therapist works with the child directly, and also shows the parent how to work with the child at home. 


School Age Services (Ages 6-12 years) - The therapies at this level still involve both the child and parent/caregiver, although the two are often seen separately.  The therapist works with the child directly on skill development, and shows the parent how to reinforce those skills at home. 


Adolescent/Young Adult Services (Ages 13 -22 years) - All therapies at this level continue to involve both the child and parent/caregiver with an emphasis on helping the client and family successfully navigating adolescence and preparing them for life after school. 


Adult Services (Ages 23 years and older) - Therapies at this level may involve the client alone or the client and the parent/caregiver, depending upon the client's functioning level.  For some individuals the emphasis is geared toward developing or maintaining independence and significant relationships, along with establishing and achieving life goals.  For others the emphasis is on maintaining quality of life to the greatest extent possible.



Outreach Services - These services are designed to help raise awareness and help educate the community regarding Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Community involvement is an important aspect of the ASD program and the TEAM Centers.


Early Screening and Detection - Research has shown that early detection and treatment has resulted in the greatest success in treating ASD.  Representatives from the TEAM Centers are available to speak with pediatric and family practice medical groups, as well as other interested groups, about early screening and detection of potential symptoms of ASD. 


Support Groups  - Representatives from TEAM partner with already-existing parent support groups, as well as organize additional support groups to meet the needs identified by families and caregivers in the community.


Training  - Training and consultation are offered to schools and other professional agencies as requested.


The ASD program offers an array of services and supports to persons with autism and their families. It also provides consultation and training to other providers, teachers and clinicians to improve the lives of the people we serve. For individuals with behavioral support and/or mental health needs this is crucial in offering an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates an understanding of autism. Our goal is to assist individuals, their families, and other natural supports, and to provide effective mental health services in the context of their overall service and support needs. As we learn more about the mental health needs of this population, this method of diagnosis and treatment will play a key role in promoting successful outcomes.


For further information, contact Dr. Weigle at or Dr. Altabet at Email: 


The "U.S. Public Policy Update" is an ongoing column in The NADD Bulletin.  We welcome your comments and submissions for this column.  To learn more or to contribute to this column you may contact Joan Beasley, Editor of the U.S. Public Policy Update at