The Center for Autism & Related Disorders opened at the Karnik Institute in West Lake Hills. The Center for Autism & Related Disorders opened at the Karnik Institute in West Lake Hills.[/caption]

Austin-area parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism and related disorders now have a new resource in West Lake Hills. The Center for Autism & Related Disorders opened at the Karnik Institute, 4800 Bee Caves Road, in April.

CARD, a 25-year-old national company that operates more than 30 centers, was founded by clinical psychologist Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh. CARD uses applied behavioral analysis to treat autism.

ABA assumes all people on the autism spectrum are capable of learning, and behavior can be improved and enhanced with appropriate learning opportunities, CARD Director of Operations Sarah Cho said.

“It’s a treatment that works,” she said. “It can improve autism.”

She said that with timely and appropriate intervention, some children diagnosed with autism can even achieve a full recovery.

“We don’t shy away from the term ‘recovery,’” Cho said. “We

CARD founder Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh attends the program’s local opening. CARD founder Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh attends the program’s local opening.[/caption]

have a group of kids for whom we see very dramatic and amazing results, to the point where we see the label of autism removed.”

She said the treatment addresses human functioning in eight areas: language, play, social skills, motor skills, academic skills, adaptations, cognitive skills and executive functioning.

Cho said that CARD offers a wide range of specialists—behavioral, speech and occupational therapists as well as licensed social workers—to support its patients.

“We work collaboratively with school districts, participate in goal-setting for students and do training in schools,” she said.

In many cases, school-age children come to the center after school and on weekends, Cho said.  Children who are unsuccessful in a traditional classroom may benefit from the full-day CARD Academy, she said.

The academy serves children from kindergarten through age 22 and focuses on academic learning, self-help and social skills.

CARD Academy Superintendent Mary Ann Cassell said the goal of the academy is to teach skills so that children can ultimately return to their school with their friends and neighbors and be successful.

For students older than 18, CARD Academy offers a focus on developing the vocational and social skills necessary to transition the client into adulthood, Cassell said.

“I would encourage families not to wait,” she said. “One of the keys to success at whatever age is getting into treatment and having a program that works intensely on the deficits.”

Center for Autism & Related Disorders, [At the Karnik Institute], 4800 Bee Caves Road, West Lake Hills, 512-330-9520, www.centerforautism.com