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 Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) 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 CHDD 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. We continue to offer a full range of training opportunities during the pandemic. All of our clinics are open, with both telehealth and in-person services.

Outpatient Clinical Training Opportunities at SCAC and UW CHDD

UW and SCAC boast a large number of interdisciplinary specialty clinics that offer excellent outpatient training opportunities in both assessment and treatment. Residents will receive in-depth training at the Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) 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 CHDD. Residents will choose from an array of training experiences at SCAC in individual and group therapy, intensive treatment programming, and assessment of children with ASD.


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

The Clinical Training Unit (CTU) is housed within the CHDD 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 CHDD.

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Residents will spend 1 or 2 days/week in the following clinics/programs at CHDD, 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
Eric Boelter, PhD
Heather Carmichael-Olson, PhD
Rachel Earl, 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, speech and language therapy, 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

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. The PBMU is a 41-bed acute care psychiatric unit that provides multidisciplinary assessment, crisis intervention and stabilization, and long-term treatment planning for children and adolescents between the ages of 4 and 18. The children and adolescents seen on this unit 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.

Under close supervision from SCAC faculty and providers, residents will provide diagnostic evaluation and assessment consultation for pediatric inpatients with concerns for DD/ASD, as well as treatment/milieu planning for patients with confirmed DD/ASD diagnoses. Residents will also have the opportunity to develop ongoing ASD programming for the unit. Working in the inpatient setting will provide in-depth training in psychiatric comorbidity in the DD population. Residents will overlap with the Child Track residents who each spend a full 3 months on the PBMU.

Rotation Structure

The training year is divided into two 6-month rotations. One 6-month rotation will include inpatient care on the PBMU for 2 days/week and assessment at CHDD/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 CHDD/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. We strongly recommend that residents rotate through the Mood and Anxiety Program given the clinical skills acquired in this rotation that are broadly applicable to clinical work with the ASD/DD population after internship

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

Supervisors and Mentors

Track Coordinator: Jennifer Gerdts, PhD

Dr. Gerdts is the Autism and Developmental Disabilities track coordinator and serves as the primary supervisor in the SCAC Diagnostic Evaluation Clinic. She received her doctoral degree from the Child Clinical Psychology program at UW, with a focus on autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Gerdts is the Director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND) interdisciplinary training program at the Center on Human Development and Disability at UW. She also is an attending psychologist at the SCAC in which she serves as the Diagnostic Services Lead, conducts diagnostic evaluations, and supervises trainees.

Karen Bearss, PhD
Eric Boelter, PhD
Heather Carmichael-Olson, PhD
Rachel Earl, PhD
Jennifer Gerdts, PhD
Megan Goldenshteyn, PhD
Kathleen Lehman, PhD
Mendy Minjarez, PhD
Emily Neuhaus, PhD
Felice Orlich, PhD