The Adult Autism Center provides adult autism support and ongoing education that is critical to helping adults with autism reach their full potential and experience the highest possible quality of life. The Adult Autism Center partners with families to help their adult children progress and succeed in their personal goals.Watch our video below to hear from families who have worked with us and how we can help.
The Pingree Center was the first program of its kind created to serve preschool children with Autism Spectrum Disorders back in 1977. It is considered the gold standard of treatment for individuals with autism. The program has expanded over the years and now serves individuals as old as 21. As these children age into adulthood, many of them still need the level of support provided by the services at the Pingree Center.
The Adult Autism Center will be the first of its kind in Utah. It will serve as an extension of the evidence-based treatment we provide at the existing Pingree Center. The services that our adult clients would benefit from are more focused on vocational skills, community integration, increased independence, and daily living skills. The shift in treatment focus and the developmental difference between the age groups currently being served at the existing facility, both show the need for a new campus to be created specifically for adults.
The goal will be increased independence for each client based on their abilities and interests. We will provide access to the community via internships, volunteers, and supported employment opportunities.
This program will provide a place where individuals with significant needs can continue to get quality treatment and work towards independence and increased quality of life.
There are a number of services in the community for adults with disabilities, and even adults with autism, but there is a gap in services for adults with autism who have significant needs. The adults who will be served at this program require 24/7 care and supervision, they have lower cognitive and adaptive abilities, very limited communication skills, and many have severe aggressive and self-injurious behaviors. There are not currently programs of this type with robust and quality services for this specific population. Adults with this level of need age out of educational services at 22 years old and typically at least one parent has to quit their job to be their full-time caretaker because there are not programs for them to go to during the day.
Adults with Autism are unemployed or under-employed
People Aged 15-61 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Utah.
of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have co-occurring intellectual disabilities
This program will fill a desperate need in the community and will be seen as a flagship program for adults with autism who need significant supports, much like the Pingree Center was a flagship program for preschoolers decades ago. The program will be an extension of the high quality, evidence-based programs we provide through the Pingree Center for children, but it will have a focus specific to serving adults.
The new center will serve the needs of adults requiring a high level of support – those with lower cognitive and communication skills as well as the most challenging behavioral issues. With personalized care and instruction, individuals will learn valuable skills and achieve a higher level of independence.
Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA-D, NCSP received her bachelors degree in psychology from Westminster College and her masters and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from the University of Utah. She is one of the published authors of Superheroes Social Skills, a program that has been used and researched internationally. Her masters and doctorate research studied the efficacy of Superheroes Social Skills for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and externalizing behaviors.
Julia is a Licensed Psychologist, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctoral designation, and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Julia is the Chief Clinical Officer IDD at Valley Behavioral Health and oversees the clinical services for individuals with an intellectual and developmental disability. She clinically oversees the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning, the development and creation of the Adult Autism Center, and Psychological Services. In addition to her work at VBH, Julia is adjunct faculty at the University of Utah and teaches a doctoral level course on child and adolescent assessment. She works closely with the Educational Psychology department to help train doctoral students. Previously, she worked as a psychologist in Granite School District and she has also had experience working in substance abuse treatment centers, international humanitarian work, work with refugee populations, various clinical settings, and with gang and substance use prevention programs.