What Makes the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic Different?
Our team has extensive education and experience in understanding the needs of people with autism spectrum disorders. We work with children, adolescents, adults, and their families across the continuum of care, including public schools, hospitals, day treatment settings, and outpatient settings.
Our goal is to partner with individuals and families to improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. We are a partnership between the Department of Psychiatry, the Neurobehavior HOME Program, and the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI).
Services for Autistic People
We provide services for autistic people and their families. While most of our services are designed with people with ASD in mind, our therapy groups serve anyone who needs support with challenges related to social anxiety, social communication, or other difficulties similar to autistic individuals.
Cost of Services & Insurance Coverage
University of Utah Health contracts with many commercial insurance providers. Please call your insurance company and ask if you have access to health care services at U of U Health locations, and what (if any) co-payments, co-insurances, and deductibles will be your responsibility.
Intervention & Therapy
What Is Behavioral Intervention?
Our team of Behavior Analysts and Registered Behavior Technicians work with families to provide evidence based treatment that has a foundation in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). After an initial assessment; behavior analysts work with families to develop and implement treatment goals based on individual needs. Adjustments to these plans and goals are made based on date collected during each treatment session. Our specialists are highly trained in providing Early Intervention for children ages 0–8 and Positive Behavior Supports for individuals ages 9 and older.
What Kind of Issues Could Be Addressed in Therapy?
Therapy is individualized, and goals are established during the first session. We might address:
- co-occurring emotional issues, such as anxiety and/or depression
- family dynamics
- behavioral challenges
- social difficulties
What If the Individual Needs Medication?
While there are no medication management services at our clinic, we can refer you our Behavioral Health Clinic for an appointment with a psychiatrist.
If medication management is recommended, a psychiatric provider can also be recommended based on where you live and your insurance coverage.
What types of therapy are used at the ASDC?
Therapy will vary based on each case and for many people, a combination of modalities may be appropriate. Common therapies used in our clinic include, but are not limited to:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Motivational Interviewing
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Play Therapy
- Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Person-centered/Rogerian approaches
- Mindfulness-based approaches
- Supportive interactions for individuals and parents
Testing & Consultations
How do I schedule testing?
If you would like to schedule testing, please call (801) 587-8020. Support staff will gather brief information from you and you will be placed on the waitlist for testing. When there is a consultation spot available for you, you will be contacted by phone to schedule the initial appointment.
What should I expect at my evaluations appointments?
The initial consultation consists of a clinical interview that lasts about one hour. This is usually a virtual appointment. At the end of the interview, your provider will discuss next steps and if further evaluation is recommended, they will also schedule that appointment with you. You and your provider will decide together if the visit will be in person or virtual. They will also provide more information about what the assessment will look like at that time.
The feedback session is scheduled with your provider after the evaluation is complete and you will also receive a written report with testing results and diagnostic information.
What do I need to have prepared for autism testing?
If the person being evaluated has had previous psychological testing a copy of those reports is helpful. If they have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or receive accommodations under a 504, you will be asked to provide copies of their most recent plans. For students with IEPs, you will also be asked to provide a copy of their most recent special education evaluation.
Find an Autism Specialist
The ASDC Team
Natalie Buerger, PhD, Clinical Director
Natalie Buerger, PhD, licensed psychologist, assistant professor, earned her doctorate of philosophy from the University of Utah Educational Psychology program in 2014. She began working with the autism community as a graduate research assistant at the Utah Autism Research Program in 2008. She completed her APA accredited internship at The Watson Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she specialized on the autism training track. Dr. Buerger also participated in the URLEND program as an autism enhancement trainee. Before working within the Department of Pediatrics at the University Developmental Assessment Clinics (2015-2016), she spent four years working as a school psychologist. In addition to providing assessments and evaluations through the clinic, Dr. Buerger loves teaching and training students who are interested in autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Buerger is thrilled to be a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic team. In her spare time, Dr. Buerger enjoys reading, cooking, being outside, and spending time with her family.
Caralee Cumming, LCSW
Caralee earned her master of social work degree from the University of Utah and a bachelor of science in behavioral science from Utah Valley University. Since graduating, Caralee has worked at RISE/Intercept, Options for Southern Oregon, and most recently, the HMHI Behavioral Health Clinic. Caralee's clinical interests are CBT, especially with children under 10, and parent child interaction therapy (PCIT). Caralee is in the process of submitting her documentation to complete certification with PCIT International. Caralee enjoys spending time training and playing with her dogs, reading, dancing, and traveling.
Nicolette Goines, MEd, BCBA, LBA
Nicolette Goines is a board-certified behavior analyst and has been with the HMHI Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic since 2015. She received her master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis from the University of Utah. Prior to this she received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho with emphases in marriage and family studies, child development, and nutrition. She specializes in early intervention services and social skills groups, but loves applying the principles of applied behavior analysis to help individuals of all stages of life. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis with her spouse and kids, hiking, playing board and card games, and being outdoors.
Russell Howarth,MEd, BCBA, LBA
Russell received his master's in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis from the University of Utah in the summer of 2018. He has worked with children and adults providing ABA services for the past seven years. He has worked in schools, clinics, and in the home. Russell is from Florida, loves the outdoors, southern BBQ cuisine, Mexican food, and sports.
Caitlin MacPherson MS, BCBA, LBA
Caitlin has been working with people with developmental disabilities since 2012. Her experience includes designing behavior analytic programs in a variety of settings including school and in home programs. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Utah in 2012, and her graduate degree in applied behavior analysis and autism from The Sage Colleges in 2016. Caitlin received her board-certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA) in 2014 and became a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) in 2016. She became licensed to practice in the state of Utah in 2017.
Jackie Nelson, PhD
Jackie Nelson, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, adjunct instructor, earned her doctorate in psychology from Antioch University Seattle Clinical Psychology program in 2019. She began working with the autism community in graduate school while supporting children in specialized education facilities in 2013. Along with specialized training in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Dr. Nelson also received extensive training in clinical and assessment practice with people of all ages with various psychopathologies, learning differences, and neurodiversities. She has worked in various educational settings (elementary and middle schools, as well as college counseling centers), in intensive outpatient programs, in integrated healthcare settings, as well as performing more traditional mental health counseling. Dr. Nelson completed her APA-accredited internship at Brigham Young University in 2019. She specialized in conducting ASD assessments for two years (2020-2022) prior to accepting employment with U of U Health. Dr. Nelson believes in the importance of interdisciplinary care and enjoys collaborating with experts within other fields to supplement her clinical practice. She has loved being a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic and its emphasis on recognizing the whole person. In her free time, Dr. Nelson enjoys reading fantasy epics and spending time with friends and family.
Jenny Pringle, LMFT
Jenny Pringle, LMFT, graduated with her master's in counseling from Truman State University in Missouri and later moved to California where she pursued additional education to earn licensure as a marriage and family therapist (MFT). She has been licensed as a MFT in Utah since 2012 and providing mental health services to children, families, and adults across multiple settings. Jenny’s clinical interests are utilizing evidence-based modalities to empower clients in learning strategies that move them towards established goals for treatment. Jenny has received training in CBT, ACT, MI, and DBT and views the therapeutic alliance as a partnership and client directed collaboration. Jenny provides individual therapy primarily to school age and adult clients both in clinic and virtually. Jenny is originally from Iowa and enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors in Utah.