Autism and Developmental Disabilities Track

General Information

(APPIC/NMS program code = 161916)

Track Coordinator:
Jennifer Gerdts, PhD:

Our Autism and Developmental Disabilities clinical psychology predoctoral internship track at the University of Washington welcomes two residents annually focusing on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related developmental disabilities (DD). Each resident will rotate through a variety of outpatient and inpatient clinical experiences structured in two 6-month rotations at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD) at UW. Residents will receive superior clinical training in outpatient assessment and treatment of ASD and DD at the Seattle Children’s Autism Center (SCAC) and IHDD at UW. Residents will also provide specialized assessment and treatment consultation for inpatients on the Seattle Children’s Pediatric and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) referred for concerns regarding ASD/DD. Each resident will also have protected research time and access to mentors throughout the University of Washington, including researchers outside of the psychology internship program if desired.

Outpatient Clinical Training Opportunities at SCAC and UW IHDD

UW and SCAC boast a large number of interdisciplinary specialty clinics that offer excellent outpatient training opportunities in both assessment and treatment. Each resident will receive in-depth training at the Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD) in interdisciplinary assessment of children who are identified with or at-risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities through a variety of clinics within the Clinical Training Unit at IHDD. The resident will choose from an array of training experiences at SCAC in individual and group therapy, intensive treatment programming, and assessment of children with ASD.

Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD)

Jennifer Gerdts, PhD
Megan Goldenshteyn, PhD
Kathleen Lehman, PhD

The Clinical Training Unit (CTU) is housed within the IHDD and is an interdisciplinary program that provides training, research, and exemplary services in the assessment and treatment of children with or at risk for developmental disabilities, using a person-centered, community-based, culturally and linguistically responsive approach. CTU includes different training clinics allowing the residents to work within a clinical team composed of a variety of disciplines, including audiology, developmental pediatrics, nutrition, occupational therapy, family advocates, physical therapy, social work, and speech language pathology.

UW is one of 60 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs. LEND is an interdisciplinary training program intended to prepare a workforce and train future leaders in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. As part of the internship experience, residents will be enrolled for the academic year as LEND trainees in a cohort of 35+ other graduate level trainees from a variety of disciplines, including both professionals and family/self-advocates. As part of LEND, residents will attend seminars and leadership workshops during the academic year, complete advocacy learning experiences, and present a leadership project at the end of the training year—in addition to clinical training experiences at IHDD.

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Residents will spend 1 or 2 days/week in the following clinics/programs at IHDD, depending on the rotation.


Clinic Description Length of Rotation
Child Development Clinic (CDC) Interdisciplinary team evaluations for neurodevelopmental disorders. 12 months, Mondays
Down Syndrome Specialty Clinic (DSSC) Interdisciplinary team evaluation of complex Down Syndrome patients 12 months, Mondays
LEND Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities core seminars/activities. 9 months, Mondays
Infant Development Follow-Up Clinic (IDFC) Assessment and monitoring over time of high-risk babies born prematurely and/or with extensive NICU stays. 3 months, Wednesdays
Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic (CNC) Assessment and monitoring over time of young children with open-heart surgeries in infancy 3 months, Tuesdays


Karen Bearss, PhD
Heather Carmichael-Olson, PhD
Jennifer Gerdts, PhD
Mendy Minjarez, PhD
Emily Neuhaus, PhD
Felice Orlich, PhD

The Seattle Children’s Autism Center is the region’s largest interdisciplinary clinical service center focusing on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). SCAC provides a wide variety of services specific to individuals with ASD, including diagnostic evaluations, comprehensive clinical programs, individual and group therapy in various clinics, psychiatric medication management, medical appointments, parent education classes, and family resource support. SCAC averages approximately 17,000 outpatient visits (~4,300 unique patients) each year.

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Residents will spend 6 months at SCAC providing outpatient care for 3 days/week. Residents can select from a variety of assessment and treatment clinics and specialty programs. Each resident will decide on rotations based on goals and preferences (and schedule to some extent).

Seattle Children’s Autism Center

Clinic Description
ASD Diagnostic Evaluation Clinic Interdisciplinary team evaluations for ASD. First Steps Classes for families of newly diagnosed children with ASD.
Gender Clinic Assessment and treatment of children with ASD questioning their gender identity. Clinic operates in collaboration with the Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic.
Mood and Anxiety Clinic CBT-based intervention clinic for children with ASD, including individual and group therapy. Group experience includes the Facing Your Fears curriculum.
RUBI Clinic Parent-training program for disruptive behaviors in ASD.
SNACS – Families Moving Forward Evaluation and potential intervention for children with confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure.
Clinical Program Description
Bio-Behavior Program Interdisciplinary behavior assessment/treatment program for very challenging behaviors within IDD/ASD populations.
Early Intervention Program Center-based intervention program using an Applied Behavior Analysis approach for young children with ASD.
Feeding Program Interdisciplinary feeding assessment/treatment program, often serving children with DD/ASD.

Inpatient Training on the PBMU

Emily Neuhaus, PhD
Eric Boelter, PhD

Autism and Developmental Disability residents will each rotate for 6 months, 2 days/week on the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Residents will overlap with the General Child Track residents for this rotation who each spend a full 3 months on the PBMU.

The PBMU is a 41-bed acute care psychiatric unit that provides multidisciplinary assessment, crisis intervention and stabilization, short term individual and group therapy, and long-term treatment planning for children and adolescents between the ages of 3 and 17 who are in psychiatric crisis. Children and adolescents seen on the PBMU present with a variety of severe psychological/psychiatric problems, including psychotic, mood, disruptive, anxiety, eating, and developmental disorders, as well as chronic medical problems with concomitant behavioral difficulties. In addition, many youth struggle with significant psychosocial stressors related to child abuse and neglect, and other types of trauma. The PBMU is divided into 3 programs based on the child’s age and behavioral needs:

  • Child Inpatient Program, for children 12 years and under
  • Adolescent Inpatient Program, for teens 13 and older
  • Biobehavioral Inpatient Program (BBIP), serving children and teens 3 to 17 who have severe intellectual and developmental disabilities and benefit from specialized behavioral programming

Working in the inpatient setting provides in-depth training in psychiatric comorbidity in the ASD/DD population. Under close supervision from SCAC faculty and providers, residents will provide diagnostic evaluations for pediatric inpatients in the Child and Adolescent Inpatient Programs who present with concerns for DD/ASD, as well as treatment/milieu planning for patients with confirmed DD/ASD diagnoses in these programs. Residents can also contribute and develop ongoing ASD programming for both programs.

Residents have the option to attend rounds and observe in the Biobehavioral Inpatient Program (BBIP), although this is not the focus of the 6-month required inpatient rotation. For some residents with experience and interest, additional training experiences may be available in the BBIP in lieu of one SCAC outpatient clinic experience, with approval from the PBMU clinical lead and track coordinator. BBIP uses a biopsychosocial model to assess and treat children and adolescents with ASD/IDD who engage in severe challenging behavior such as aggression, non-suicidal self-injury, and property destruction. Residents on the BBIP will participate in interdisciplinary rounds with a team consisting of a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, behavior analysts, nursing, case managers, behavior technicians, and Pediatric Mental Health staff. Residents will also participate in the use of focused Applied Behavior Analysis to assess and treat severe challenging behavior using single-case design methodology and will support the implementation of a Positive Behavioral Support and Interventions (PBIS) milieu.


Rotation Structure

The training year is divided into two 6-month rotations for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities track. One 6-month rotation will include inpatient care on the PBMU for 2 days/week and assessment at IHDD/LEND for 2 days/week. The other 6-month rotation will include the resident’s choice of outpatient treatment and assessment clinics at SCAC for 3 days/week and assessment at IHDD/LEND for 1 day/week. Research and didactics comprise the final 1 day/week.

Of note, residents will not be able to participate in every outpatient clinic offered at our training sites- there is just not enough time in the year! We will work with each resident prior to the training year to finalize rotation order and plan for the year, depending on background and interests.

July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar April May June
Tues PM Research PBMU CNC
Wed PM Mood and Anxiety IDFC PBMU
Thurs AM Mood and Anxiety Research
Thurs PM Didactics
Fri AM Gender PBMU
Fri PM Gender PBMU

Supervision consists of direct observation, case conferences, interdisciplinary team huddles, and weekly individual and group supervision.

Evaluation of Psychology Residents 
Psychology residents participate in standard evaluation practices that are part of the overall internship which includes self-evaluation, evaluations by their supervisors, resident evaluation of their supervisors and resident evaluation of the rotation site.