Q&A: UHCL in Pearland is offering FREE autism therapy for families in need

Pearland, TX – It’s estimated that one in 54 children are diagnosed with autism.

Despite the fact that Houston has the largest medical center in the world, it has few programs designed to treat severe behaviors in many of these patients.

However, families have a new option at the University of Houston-Clear Lake campus in Pearland. The Intensive Outpatient Behavior Disorders Clinic offers behavioral intervention and caregiver training for free.

How does it work?

Patients with autism and a family member will do a consultation in a quiet room before diving right into therapy.

Therapy is geared towards interventions, including correction of behavior problems and helping the caregiver implement better communication.

“We do an assessment to figure out why the behavior is occurring, and then based on that reason, we would then figure out a treatment,” said Program Manager Tori Fletcher.

Fletcher explained that graduate students are the ones conducting the training and learning to provide these services.

“They have to be working with caregivers and clients under supervision to get practice doing those -- implementing those skills,” she said.

Are you sure this will help?

Associate Professor of Behavior Analysis, Jennifer Fritz, who is also director of this initiative, said that waitlists for other services are often very long and sometimes unaffordable and she believes here they’re filling a void for families in dire need.

“If they have a behavior problem that is leading to disruptions in the home life or at school, if they’re at risk of, you know, being expelled or placed in an out-of-district placement, if they are unable to receive other therapies such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language therapy, those families might be appropriate for our clinic and we would be more than happy to work with them,” said Fritz.

How much does it cost?

You don’t need insurance and you don’t even need money. Due to grant funding provided by the Masonic Children and Family Services of Texas, all services are free.

All you need is an autism diagnosis and to live in Texas.

How long does the program last?

The session is currently two weeks of intensive therapy.

Is my child too old?

Currently, they’re seeing all ages from little kids to those preparing for college. One patient is nearly 30 years old.

How can I reach them?

Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities

Phone: 281-283-3452

Fax: 281-283-3510

Email: autismcenter@uhcl.edu