Autism Outpatient Services
Screening & Evaluation
LifeScape is dedicated to the early identification and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD Screening with Therapeutic Assessment and Recommendations (STAR) clinic provides autism screening within a multidisciplinary occupational therapy and speech therapy evaluation so children 5 and under can get started with therapy services sooner.
Our team includes a psychologist, speech-language pathologist, and occupational therapist. They complete a thorough assessment using the most stringent evidence-based tools and a full review of medical and educational records. Medical Director of Behavior services and pediatric psychiatrist, David Ermer, M.D., provides clinical consultation as appropriate. Visit our Autism Outpatient Services page for more information.
Red flags of autism:
- Limited eye contact
- Delated speech or vocabulary regression
- Repetitive speech, behaviors, or body movements
- Sensory sensitivities to sound, textures, movements
- Not responding to name being called
- Intense interest in a certain topic or item
- Limited play with peers
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) uses the principles of learning to teach or improve critical skills needed for independence. LifeScape’s ABA therapy program is an intensive intervention that helps children with autism and other developmental disabilities learn these skills using the principles of ABA.
LifeScape’s ABA Therapy Program is designed for those 18 and younger who have a diagnosis of autism. If your child doesn’t have a diagnosis, but you suspect an autism spectrum disorder, contact us information on the full evaluation process. ABA can also be helpful for adults with ASD, though insurance coverage may not apply.
Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
Children aged 1-5 with autism or autism-like symptoms benefit from ESDM. This program combines ABA and developmental methods in an interdisciplinary treatment model. The team includes professionals from psychology, behavior therapy, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy.
Therapy goals utilizing the ESDM approach are addressed through play-based activities and address all areas of child development. ESDM is the only comprehensive treatment model with support from a randomized controlled trial that has been shown to be effective for children as young as 18 months of age and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
LifeScape speech-language pathologist Megan Wiessner, MA, CCC-SLP, is South Dakota's first and only clinician to be certified in Early Start Denver Model. She leads the LifeScape therapy team in delivering these services.
LifeScape’s doctorate-level clinical psychologists use cognitive behavior therapy to help children and adults with a variety of mental health diagnoses and other challenges. Through one-on-one or family therapy, they focus on the unique needs of the person or situation. Their goal is to provide tools and supports to promote individual and/or family growth and healthy relationships. Our psychologists are based at our two Sioux Falls outpatient centers.
Our psychologists provide evaluations and testing in several areas, including:
- Autism Evaluations (as part of the LifeScape Autism Diagnostic Team)
- Psychological Assessments
- IQ/Cognitive Achievement, due to academic difficulties
- ADHD Diagnostic testing
Treatment Specializations include (but are not limited to):
- Depression/mood disorders
- Adjustment problems
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Partner/relational problems
- Parenting support and positive parenting, including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
- Phase-of-life problems
- Grief and coping
- Behavioral interventions with children
- Behavioral feeding problems
- Stress management
- Therapy for families
Download our Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Flyer.
Communication challenges are a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder, and early intensive intervention has been shown to be the most effective. Our therapists have specialized training in well-established treatment methods and can help guide you and your family through the diagnosis process, from screening, to evaluation, and to treatment.
Treatment methods utilized include:
- Early Start Denver Model services for young children with autism
- Augmentative and Alternative Communications (AAC)
- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
- Social skills intervention - individual and group
- Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to shape and reinforce target behaviors
For more information, you can download the following flyers:
LifeScape offers support for safe and fulfilling lives through therapeutic interventions for children with autism. We have the expertise to help improve communication, behavioral, social, sensory, and learning skills to live as independently as possible.
We provide free autism screenings for children four and under at LifeScape. Our occupational therapists are part of both our autism screening and evaluation teams. We are experienced in working with children of all ages with autism and have therapists who have completed advanced training in the Early Start Denver Model for young children with autism.