Autism and Comorbidities

Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Autism and Comorbidities

Autism is often associated with several common comorbidities, including seizure disorders and bipolar disorders. Understanding their diagnosis, treatment, and proper care can greatly improve the quality of life for autistic individuals. Learn more about these comorbidities and how to manage them effectively.

Autism and Comorbidities – Seizure Disorders & Other Common Disorders

Autism, a complex developmental condition, varies greatly among autistic individuals. It exists on a spectrum, encompassing a wide array of experiences, behaviors, and characteristics distinct to each person. From facing challenges in social communication and interactions to finding comfort in repetitive behaviors and special interests — autism’s diversity is as unique as the people it affects. 

Often, conditions like epilepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) co-occur with autism. These additional conditions are called comorbidities. 

Autism and comorbid conditions

Comorbidities can be physical, mental, and behavioral. These coexisting conditions can affect an individual’s ability to function, as well as their quality of life. With each comorbidity comes a unique set of challenges, potentially adding further complexity to the autistic experience.  

1. ADHD and autism comorbidity

ADHD is one of the most common comorbidities that occurs with autism. In fact, as many as 60% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) show ADHD-related symptoms and behaviors. ADHD typically manifests through inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. However, behaviors can present differently in boys and girls, as well as individually. 

For example, autistic boys with ADHD may fidget more in class, have trouble sitting still, and blurt out answers without thinking. They may be clumsy and unaware of their bodies. Autistic girls with ADHD may be more forgetful and more likely to daydream. They may have trouble keeping their schoolwork organized. They may also be less attentive to what the other girls deem fashionable and trendy. But it’s also possible for autistic children with ADHD to experience a combination of all of these symptoms, depending on the individual. 

ADHD can pose challenges to retaining information, accomplishing assignments, and sustaining attention for autistic children in school. Beyond the academic sphere, the social impact of the co-presence of autism and ADHD can also lead to the child feeling excluded or isolated. 

2. Autism and anxiety comorbidity

Mood disorders like anxiety are common comorbidities experienced by autistic adults and children alike. Up to 40% of those with ASD experience high levels of stress and anxiety. This can look like excessive worry, obsessive thinking, or fixating on irrational fears, and can even result in panic attacks. 

Autistic individuals are also more likely to experience social anxiety due to their difficulty picking up on social cues. This can lead to feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and a sense of not belonging. 

3. Epilepsy and autism comorbidity 

Around 20% to 30% of individuals on the spectrum experience epilepsy and seizure disorders. Seizures vary in type and severity. For example, some autistic individuals may experience only a few seizures per year, while others endure multiple seizures a day. The symptoms for this comorbidity can vary too. Mild symptoms can present as a brief loss of one’s awareness, whereas severe epilepsy can manifest as convulsions or a sudden loss of consciousness. 

Seizure disorders can be incredibly disruptive to daily life — making it difficult for people with epilepsy disorders to attend school or work. In severe cases, seizures can even be life-threatening. 

4. Autism and Down syndrome comorbidity

Down syndrome stems from a genetic condition caused by an additional copy of chromosome 21 (which is why Down syndrome is also known as trisomy 21). Alongside intellectual disabilities, this condition often brings with it various other conditions, including autism. 

Individuals living with both autism and Down syndrome may experience certain social and developmental challenges. These challenges can include difficulty navigating social situations, trouble managing learning disabilities, as well as addressing certain intellectual limitations. 

5. Autism and Bipolar Disorder comorbidity

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)is a mental health condition commonly characterized by unstable emotional states, distorted self-perception, and impulsivity.  

When BPD and autism intersect, it can manifest through self-destructive behaviors, mood swings, unstable relationships, and intense fears of abandonment. Though the least common comorbidity on the list, BPD still affects approximately 1–10% of autistic individuals. 

Implications of Autism Comorbidities and the Importance of a Diagnosis

Autism comorbidities are often overlooked, but they can have a profound effect on the lives of individuals with autism and their families. Getting an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan means that autistic individuals receive the support they need. If left untreated, comorbidities like ADHD and epilepsy can exacerbate existing challenges of autism, getting in the way of social and personal development, and potentially negatively affecting that person’s quality of life. 

Treatment and Support

  • Behavioral therapies: ABA therapy can be an effective treatment for addressing many of the challenges that come with autism and comorbidities. This modality focuses on developing essential skills and improving social interactions. 
  • Pediatric therapies : Including speech and occupational therapy, these services can support people with autism in addition to behavioral therapies and/or school supports. 
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage symptoms of comorbidities, such as ADHD or anxiety.  
  • Psychological interventions: Interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy can be valuable for managing anxiety and mood disorders, and help the autistic individual with emotional regulation. 
  • Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): For individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities, IEPs can provide tailored educational strategies to support learning and skill development. IEPs are common in the pubic school system. 
  • Coordinated care: Coordinating care among the specialists you’re working with is crucial. This ensures that all aspects of an individual’s needs are being addressed holistically. Parents and caregivers should actively communicate and collaborate with healthcare providers, therapists, educators, and support groups to create a comprehensive plan. 

Collaborate with Lighthouse Autism Center

Autism and its comorbidities are a nuanced landscape that demands understanding and tailored care. At Lighthouse Autism Center, we provide comprehensive autism resources and services. Learn more about our Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy program to find the right approach for your child’s unique needs. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Causes of Behavioral Change in Autistic Children 

Understanding and managing changes in behavior is essential for caregivers of autistic children. By identifying triggers and implementing effective strategies, such as ABA therapy and positive reinforcement, you can help autistic children learn to identify their triggers, self-regulate, and thrive.

What Are Some Causes of Behavioral Change in Autistic Children? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental condition that affects how autistic individuals communicate, interact with others, perceive themselves and interpret the world around them. Autistic adults and children often experience heightened sensory sensitivities, process information differently and approach social interactions more cognitively than intuitively. 

For children with ASD, sudden changes in behavior can be triggered by sensory overload, changes in their daily routine as well as certain medical conditions. By understanding what the potential triggers are, caregivers can effectively implement strategies to manage behavior and support their autistic child through challenging moments. 

What triggers behavioral changes in autistic children?

The behavior of autistic children can vary widely, as each child’s experience exists on the broad behavioral spectrum of autism. However, there are certain factors that can commonly trigger changes in behavior. 

1. Sensory Issues

Sensory processing issues are common among most autistic children. They may be highly sensitive (hypersensitive) or under-responsive (hyposensitive) to light, sound, taste, touch and smell. 

For example, a child can become overwhelmed in a crowded, bright and noisy environment — resulting in a meltdown or shutdown. Or, they may seek intense sensory experiences, like spinning or rocking, in order to self-regulate. These sensory differences can significantly affect their emotional state and how they behave.  

2. Changes in routine

Autistic children often thrive on predictability and routine. This means that they do best when they know what to expect day to day. Any changes, sometimes even minor ones, to their daily schedules or environment can be distressing and lead to behavioral changes. 

3. Medical Conditions

Some autistic children may have specific underlying medical conditions that contribute to behavioral changes. For instance, gastrointestinal issues, allergies or sleep disorders may cause discomfort and impact their behavior negatively. 

4. Communication difficulties

Communication difficulties can also be a great challenge for some autistic children. They may have difficulty understanding or using language. They could even struggle to focus and communicate effectively due to the sensory issues discussed above. Understandably, not being able to communicate can lead to frustration and result in challenging behaviors such as self-injury, tantrums and aggression. 

5. Social Challenges

Social challenges can also be a source of stress and the cause of behavioral issues for autistic children since they may have difficulty understanding subtle social cues, micro-expressions and emotions, as well as any form of nonverbal communication. These challenges can be incredibly frustrating and isolating for the child.  

In social settings, autistic children may engage in repetitive or self-stimulatory behaviors as a coping mechanism. They may also withdraw from social interaction altogether to avoid the complex and uncomfortable dance of human interaction. 

Recognizing triggers

Recognizing triggers is the key to effectively managing the behavioral health of autistic children. Caregivers should pay close attention and take note of any specific circumstances or events that precede unhealthy, inappropriate or challenging behaviors.  

Once the potential triggers have been identified, caregivers and parents can work on creating tailored strategies to minimize or avoid those behaviors and responses altogether, as well as teach new skills to support their child 

Effective strategies for managing behavioral changes 

Dealing with sudden behavioral changes in autistic children calls for a holistic approach, one that considers the context, unique needs and challenges of that particular child.  

As caregivers face inappropriate or challenging behaviors, having the right strategies becomes crucial when supporting the child’s development and well-being. 

Positive Behavior Support

Positive Behavior Support, or PBS, is a systematic approach to managing behavior that focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors and teaching new skills. PBS can be highly effective in reducing challenging behaviors and improving the child’s ability to function effectively. 

Visual schedules

Visual schedules can help to ground children in predictability by creating structure. This helps to reduce anxiety and prevents potential meltdowns. Creating a visual schedule can be as simple as a picture chart that shows the child what activities they will be doing throughout the day; or they can be more complex, such as a digital schedule that shows the child the time and location of each activity. 

Sensory breaks

Sensory breaks can provide autistic children with a healthy way to self-regulate and calm themselves down when they’re feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. Sensory breaks can include activities such as listening to music, doing breathing exercises or simply sitting in a peaceful place. Sensory supports are often recommended following the evaluation of an Occupational Therapist.  

Applied Behavior Analysis 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a highly effective intervention for addressing skills deficits and socially impactful behaviors of people, including children with autism. It focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors and teaching new skills. ABA programs also incorporate aspects of PBS and parent training.   

Caregiver and parent training

Training autistic children’s caregivers and parents can be a critical part of the process of managing behavioral changes and issues in autistic children because it can teach caregivers how to use the appropriate strategies in order to manage their child’s behavior. Importantly, it also provides much-needed support and resources to help guardians and caregivers cope with the complexities of raising an autistic child in a neurotypical world. 

Managing autism and sudden behavior changes with the Lighthouse Autism Center

For parents and caregivers, sudden behavior changes in their autistic children can be distressing. But by learning how to deal with challenging autistic behaviors effectively, they can profoundly affect the well-being of their autistic child. 

LAC’s innovative Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy, along with its extensive archive, offers valuable autism resources for parents and caregivers of autistic children. Armed with knowledge and tailored strategies, caregivers can create a nurturing and supportive environment that fosters growth and empowers their autistic child to thrive. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Early Signs of Autism in Children

We take a look at some of the signs of autism that parents can look out for in their babies and toddlers. We also cover the importance of early intervention. 

What Are Some of the Signs of Autism Caregivers Should Look For?

Autistic children usually display signs and symptoms from early infancy but aren’t diagnosed until they are much older. Early autism spectrum signs often go unnoticed purely because caregivers or parents don’t know what to look out for. 

Learning the early signs of autism is imperative for your child. Earlier diagnosis and autism intervention will give them the best possible start and equip them with the tools for an independent life. 

So, what are signs of autism in early childhood? Let’s take a look at some of the signs of autism that parents should keep an eye out for in their child. 

Characteristics of autism in young children

Social communication challenges and repetitive or restrictive behaviors are some of the key signs of autism in children. These can be more difficult to recognize in babies or young toddlers, but they are more noticeable in older autistic children. 

Developmental milestones offer essential insight into your child’s development. Although every child develops at their own rate, it’s important to keep them in mind, as missed milestones could indicate autism. Skills such as crawling, walking, smiling, waving, and saying their first word are just a few of the important milestones to watch out for. 

Signs of autism in babies

It’s particularly difficult to recognize signs of autism, and other tells in early infancy, as every baby develops at their own pace. However, it is possible to start noticing delays in specific skills and it’s essential to know what signs to be aware of in babies to get an early autism diagnosis. 

These are the most common signs of autism in babies under the age of 24 months: 

  • Dislike being held or touched 
  • Overly sensitive to loud noises 
  • Not following moving objects with their eyes 
  • Not responding to their name 
  • Poor facial recognition 
  • Very little to no babbling or baby noises 
  • Limited facial expressions, such as smiling 
  • Limited ability to grasp onto objects 
  • Not making eye contact 
  • Limited ability to crawl 
  • May not point or gesture to objects or people 
  • May not use gestures like waving or shaking their head to communicate what they want 

Signs of autism in toddlers

It becomes easier to recognize the signs of autism when babies become toddlers, as developmental milestones are more obvious as children learn to walk, talk and play with others. Nonverbal autism signs are vastly more recognizable in toddlers than in babies. 

Autistic children will usually display the following behaviors: 

  • Not speak at all or use a limited vocabulary of words, gestures, and sounds 
  • Repeated noises such as throat clearing, grunting, or squealing 
  • Show an interest with or fixation on one particular subject or activity 
  • Show repetitive movements (i.e., stimming), such as body-rocking, hand-flapping, or spinning 
  • Prefer to play on their own or show little interest in engaging or playing with other children 
  • Difficulty making friends with children their own age 
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings and thoughts 
  • Difficulty walking or walking only on their toes 
  • Difficulty understanding group interactions and dynamics 
  • Adhering to their own daily routines with extreme rigidity 

The importance of an early diagnosis

The importance of early diagnosis in autistic children cannot be understated. If you recognize the signs of autism in your baby or toddler, then it’s essential to make an appointment with a medical professional for a diagnosis. 

Early intervention treatments, such as the Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy, are key to helping autistic children develop critical skills and equipping them with the tools they will need to gain independence and improve the overall quality of their lives going forward. 

The sooner you are able to get your autistic child diagnosed, the sooner you are able to get the resources that will help unlock their true potential and to achieve more than you imagined was possible.  

Our brains develop rapidly and are most easily shaped in the first seven years of life. Early intervention means that we can have a positive impact on your child’s most fundamental skills, such as communication and speech development at key developmental milestones. This often means that there are fewer interventions needed later on in life, and autistic children are better prepared for life ahead. It has far-reaching positive implications for essential facets of their future, such as social and emotional skills, financial management, and maintaining relationships with friends and family. 

What is Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy?

Most autism centers use ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy for treating autistic children, keeping speech therapy as a separate entity. At Lighthouse, we offer a unique approach to ABA therapy, which combines ABA therapy and speech therapy into a single innovative approach.  

Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy has better outcomes than traditional ABA therapy, and we note that children respond to the approach faster too. Our Fusion approach isn’t just more effective, our learners achieve all of this while having fun. 

Get the best start for your child with Lighthouse Autism Center

It’s important to remember that every autistic child is unique, and their needs will depend on their individual development. LAC’s innovative approach to early intervention offers tailored strategies for every child’s requirements. Our one-of-a-kind Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy, combined with our large archive of autism resources, put us in the perfect position to understand your child’s needs and to best equip them for a positive future. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

What Is a Co-Treat Session?

Explore co-treatment with ABA, speech, and occupational therapists for comprehensive care, improved communication, and effective outcomes in children.

What Is a Co-Treat Session and How Does It Benefit Your Child?

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy programs are designed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and implemented by a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) to address behavior-related goals in autistic children. Traditional ABA therapy models are offered in a silo and are not often combined with other therapies, such as speech therapy.  

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we have designed and created the Lighthouse Fusion® Therapy model, which focuses on the whole child approach to learning. It is a co-treatment model that has seen exceptional results in all of our learners.  

So, what is collaborative treatment, and how can the Lighthouse Fusion Therapy model benefit your child? Let’s take a look. 

What is co-treatment?

As mentioned, most traditional therapy models are implemented separately for autistic children. However, many children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a number of co-existing diagnoses and symptoms across a wide variety of developmental areas. 

Autistic children often struggle with communication difficulties, and many have trouble with sensory processing. Instead of focusing on either ABA therapy or speech therapy in a single session, we use a one-of-a-kind treatment approach that involves ABA and speech  or occupational (sometimes both!) in collaboration. 

Every co-treatment session is attended by a BCBA, RBT, and an SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) or OT (Occupational Therapist) who collaborate to work toward each child’s speech, language, communication, and behavioral goals. 

These collaborative therapy techniques focus on the whole child approach. 

What is the Whole Child Approach?

Traditionally, trained therapists would work on separate areas of development in different sessions; for instance, speech therapists focus only on speech and so on. However, the theory of a whole child approach challenges the separation of therapy and instead focuses on investigating and addressing all the areas that impact autistic children as a whole.  

This includes, but isn’t limited to, behavior, sensory and motor skills, sleep, diet, communication, emotional regulation, mental health, medication, and much more. It’s a collaborative approach that looks at autistic intervention in a “whole child” manner rather than focusing on a few separate issues. 

How co-treatment at LAC can benefit your child

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we have seen some incredible results through our Lighthouse Fusion Therapy model. Here is how it can benefit your child. 

Addresses multiple needs simultaneously

One of the main benefits of this multi-disciplinary approach is that it addresses a number of different needs and goals in single sessions. In traditional approaches, learners may only get 30 minutes of speech therapy a week, requiring them to leave an ABA program or classroom setting . With co-treatment, learners can work on their speech and communication skills while addressing other ABA based outcomes. Speech prompts and cues are incorporated into sessions which expose children to more speech therapy than they would normally get in a traditional therapy model. 

Keeps children stimulated throughout a session

Many autistic children can struggle to sit through a dedicated speech or OT therapy session and are more likely to respond to sensory or motor activity sessions. They simply find these activities more stimulating.  

Co-treatment allows children to get adequate exposure to speech and/or OT therapy during their sessions by breaking up motor activity or sensory lessons with small speech and communication treatments within the session. 

Better communication between therapists

As with any industry, collaboration is key for the best outcome. Companies whose employees work in a silo are less likely to generate solid ideas or create a conducive working environment. By having a number of therapists present during your child’s session, they will be able to work together to identify where your child is thriving and where they might need to do more work. Together, this collaboration is much more effective for your child’s progression. 

Therapists who are collaborating will be able to design and provide a more coordinated, comprehensive treatment plan to reach your child’s goals. 

Creates a general environment for them to practice all their skills

Many autistic children can be averse to deviations from their own daily routines, which means that they reserve their communication skills for their speech therapy sessions while working on their other skills during ABA therapy. This can make it difficult to implement their skills in real-life situations all at the same time. 

Co-treatment creates a generalized environment for your child where they are encouraged to use a variety of skills that they are learning in different contexts. This means that they are not compartmentalizing when they should use each skill and instead are learning that they can apply them to a whole range of scenarios. This simply translates much better into environments that they are likely to encounter in real life.  

They learn while having fun

The best thing about the co-treatment model at Lighthouse Autism Center is that we see our learners getting exceptional results and taking steps toward their goals, all while smiling and enjoying themselves. 

 
At LAC, our learners get to explore their interests naturally, have exciting sensory experiences, and practice language through play. We know children learn best when they are having fun, and this is obvious in how our sessions are structured. 

Get the best for your child with LAC

At LAC, we believe that we have found the perfect combination of therapies to get the best results for our learners. The collaboration of therapists between disciplines enables us to help your child move toward their goals faster and more effectively.  

Our co-treatment sessions, along with the vast archives of autism resources, put us in the best position for your child to take the next step in their treatment. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Alena

Alena’s Lighthouse Autism Center Journey

Alena is a Clinical Apprentice at our Niles center and has been with Lighthouse Autism Center since August of 2021. Prior to her current role, she was an Assistant/RBT Trainer. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s in biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience with a focus in pre-med. She has a sweet and energetic golden-doodle named Gretchen that she loves to spend time with. Alena also loves reading, going to K-POP concerts and playing the piano in her free time. 

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

I applied to Lighthouse because I was taking a gap year before applying to medical school and I thought learning more about the autism spectrum would help me understand and expand my knowledge so I could better help future patients. I ended up falling in love with ABA and autism during my time as a therapist and decided to change my career path to stay in the field of ABA. 

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My favorite part of working for Lighthouse is the opportunity to be creative and individualize services for each learner. I love that the goal is to enable growth specialized to each learner while finding the fun in every day. I love being able to continuously learn new things while building bonds with co-workers and learners. 

How would you describe your experience working for Lighthouse?

I would describe my experience working with Lighthouse as optimistic, enlightening and rewarding. There have been challenging times but they have all been learning opportunities that have helped me grow in both my professional and personal goals. 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

One of my favorite memories is graduating the first learner I worked with. Many people were concerned with this client not being ready for school by the date they were graduating but once they started transitioning to school, they did so well that we graduated them a month early! It was bittersweet but so comforting and rewarding to know that they were ready even sooner than we anticipated. It was also a good reminder that it’s good to stay optimistic and expect the best from all our learners, no matter the circumstance. 

What advice you would like to share for those interested in a career at Lighthouse Autism Center?

If anybody is interested in a career at Lighthouse I would make sure that they know that it can be difficult and challenging but if their heart is in the work and they are wanting to change lives, it is definitely worth it. 

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

LAC Opens New Center in East Moline, Illinois! 

ABA Therapy Center is Now Open in East Moline, Illinois

Lighthouse Autism Center (LAC) continues to expand, now with a network of centers in four states – quite a journey from its humble beginnings serving four families in one building to now serving hundreds of families across four states for over a decade. It is truly amazing. 

Our newest state-of-the-art ABA therapy center is now open, our fourth center in Illinois providing autism services to 21 children and their families and creating over 32 new jobs in the area.   

Our mission is to provide the highest quality autism services to children and families by opening our newest autism center near you. Lighthouse Autism Center has committed to continuing our mission in East Moline, Illinois as the need for ABA services continues to grow. Lighthouse is determined to fill that need by opening new children’s autism centers in underserved locations with facilities that can accommodate a larger capacity of learners, helping more families and children with autism, reach their goals. 

Autism Center for speech and language

Lighthouse Autism Center is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy provider. With beautiful facilities that promote natural and play-based learning, and a team of highly trained and compassionate clinicians, Lighthouse Autism Center brings together compassionate care and clinical excellence to offer the highest quality ABA therapy to children with autism. 

With a unique clinical model called Lighthouse Fusion®, children at Lighthouse are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. While other ABA centers typically keep ABA and speech therapies separate, Lighthouse Fusion brings these two therapies together into one enhanced therapy solution. We invite you to learn more about how this innovative clinical model is helping to unlock each child’s potential.   

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center or enroll your child, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at 563-526-0533 or visit our website. 

East Moline Center Contact Information

1045 12th Ave. 

East Moline, Illinois 61244 

Family Outreach Phone: 563-526-0533 

Don’t see an autism treatment center listed near you? Contact us and let us know the area you are in, and we will notify you when we have a center opening near you! 

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

Lighthouse Autism Center to Open New Center in Clinton, Iowa!

Lighthouse Autism Center is Bringing Autism Therapy Services to Clinton, Iowa

Lighthouse Autism Center (LAC) continues to expand, now with a network of centers in four states – quite a journey from its humble beginnings serving four families in one building to now serving hundreds of families across four states for over a decade. It is truly amazing.  

Clinton Autism Center Coming the late summer of 2023

Our newest state-of-the-art ABA therapy center in Clinton, Iowa is Lighthouse autism Center’s second children’s autism center to open in Iowa. It is slated to open in the late summer of 2023 providing autism services to 30 children and their families and create over 45 new jobs in the area.   

With a mission of providing the highest quality autism services to children and families through our facilities, Lighthouse Autism Center has sought to do just that in Clinton, IA. As the need for ABA services continues to grow, Lighthouse seeks to fill that need by expanding into facilities that can accommodate a larger capacity of learners, helping more families and children with autism, reach their goals. 

Lighthouse Autism Center is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy provider

With beautiful autism therapy clinics that promote natural and play-based learning, and a team of highly trained and compassionate clinicians, Lighthouse Autism Center brings together compassionate care and clinical excellence to offer the highest quality ABA therapy to children with autism. 

With a unique clinical model called Lighthouse Fusion®, children at Lighthouse are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. While other ABA centers typically keep ABA and speech therapies separate, Lighthouse Fusion brings these two therapies together into one enhanced therapy solution. We invite you to learn more about how this innovative clinical model is helping to unlock each child’s potential.   

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center or enroll your child, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at 563-526-0533 or visit our website. 

Clinton Center Contact Information

1310 19th Ave NW, Suite 1 

Clinton, Iowa 52732 

Family Outreach Phone: 563-526-0533 

Don’t see an autism treatment center listed near you? Contact us and let us know the area you are in, and we will notify you when we have a center opening near you! 

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

LAC Introduces Behavior Treatment Committee

Lighthouse Autism Center is excited to introduce the latest initiative in our commitment to clinical quality: the Behavior Treatment Committee (BTC)! The BTC is a beacon of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy excellence, where Lighthouse clinicians gather to collaborate on treatment and behavior plans when circumstances become challenging. It provides a collaborative, round-table environment to celebrate ideas and develop treatment plans that utilize the least restrictive interventions and deliver the best possible outcomes.

Lighthouse has drawn members of the BTC from areas encompassing clinical services, compliance, and training.

According to Chief Clinical and Compliance Officer Leila Allen (MA, BCBA, LBA), the BTC is instrumental in developing treatment plans that utilize the least restrictive interventions and deliver the best possible outcomes. “The whole purpose of the BTC is to give our team support. None of us, no matter the experience, is an expert in everything, and it’s hard to not get stuck in the details for some of our learners who present with more complex needs. By bringing together experienced team members with different backgrounds, we are able to bring that diverse experience to our whole team when they just need to brainstorm, spark new ideas, and often, re-affirm that they are on the right path,” Allen said.

Amanda, BCBA at Lighthouse Autism Center in Avon, found the BTC to be a welcome addition to the company. “I found the BTC to be very helpful,” Amanda said. “When we first worked with one of our kids, he had high-frequency behavior in the form of elopement, aggression, and task refusal. The BTC helped come up with good ideas that honored the learner’s assent, but worked on skills of tolerating other peoples’ or learners’ choices.”

Jr. Program Manager Melissa Avon also had a positive learning experience with the BTC. “This is something that was extremely helpful for me, especially being so new as a Jr. Program Manager,” she said. “I appreciate it so much!”

Meet the Behavior Treatment Committee

Leila Allen (MA, BCBA, LBA) is the Chief Clinical and Compliance Officer at Lighthouse Autism Center, focused on developing our outcomes platform, compliance and payor audits, and legislative/regulatory supports. Leila has worked in the field of ABA since 2006, joining Lighthouse as a Clinical Director in 2012. As a sibling of an adult with autism, Leila knows firsthand how important clinical teams working together is for the betterment of not only the learner, but for the empowerment of the whole family. This directly aligns with the BTC’s focus, to give clinicians support and a sounding board, advice, ideas, and always follow the idea that two (or 10!) heads are better than one.

Michelle Grose (MA, BCBA)is the Regional Director of Lighthouse’s Indy South centers (Avon, Greenfield, and Columbus). Michelle has a great passion for working with adolescents and learners with high-magnitude behavior, as well as coaching and supporting BCBAs and supervision students through the Indy South centers. She is excited to be a member of the BTC as another outlet for her passion for collaboration among behavior analysts.

Megan Noll is the Director of Compliance at Lighthouse Autism Center. Megan provides valuable expertise in navigating the complex ethical considerations and practices within the healthcare landscape. Her diverse background in healthcare outside of ABA therapy brings a valuable, unique perspective to the BTC.

Cassi Nichols (MA, BCBA)is the BCBA Recruiter at Lighthouse Autism Center, having previously served as Program Manager and Clinical Director. Her experience working with learners who exhibit varying levels of support needs and maladaptive behaviors lends a valuable perspective to the BTC. Cassi is passionate about training in all areas of ABA, but particularly programming with assent in mind, self-advocacy, and getting creative with each learner’s treatment package.

Lacy Wolter (MA, BCBA) is the Director of Training at Lighthouse Autism Center, a position that allows her to share her wealth of experience with other professionals in the ABA field. Lacy’s dedication to her passions and commitment to teaching others contribute to the growth and development of the professionals at Lighthouse Autism Center.