Is the Pingree Center a good fit for my child?

Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center Learning is a day treatment program that provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other co-occurring mental health diagnoses.  The day treatment program provides intensive treatment and academic instruction.  Not all children with Autism Spectrum Disorder require these intensive day treatment services.  Many children can be appropriately served in the public school system.  So, as a parent, how do you know if your child should attend public school or a program like the Pingree Center?

In the public school system, there is a continuum of services that span from the least restrictive setting to the most restrictive setting and there is a process in place to ensure students are in the least restrictive setting possible.  The goal is to have children receive the support they need but not put them in too restrictive of a setting, which could be detrimental.  The continuum spans from general education, 504 plans, special education with various supports, special education in a self-contained classroom, and special education in a self-contained school.  Self-contained settings can vary from district to district, but they are often focused on significant learning disabilities, intellectual developmental disabilities, social-emotional learning for significant behaviors, and classification specific classrooms (e.g., Autism).  Day treatment services would be considered more restrictive than any of these school placements, so we want to make sure we are treating children who truly need and will benefit from our level of care.  The program is extremely structured and that level of structure is not beneficial for all children.

There are some situations in which placement at a program like the Pingree Center can be detrimental.  Research tells us that children with ASD learn many of their social behaviors more effectively from peers than adults (Miller, 2006; Wang & Spillane, 2009; Zhang, 2008).  If a child can be successful in the public school system, they will benefit from the peer models.  Sometimes the issue is the child not getting the correct level of support for their needs, so it is very important for families to work with the school team to make sure their child gets the appropriate supports and set them up for success.  If parents are struggling with getting their child appropriate supports, the Utah Parent Center is a great resource who can work with them and the school to meet the needs of the child

While there is a linear progression from least to the most restrictive settings, there is not a linear progression for the level of need for individuals with ASD.  As discussed in a previous blog, ASD is a spectrum and it can be a little more complex to determine the level of need for services and the appropriateness of certain services.  The spectrum is variable across areas of strengths and needs, so there is not a black and white answer as to who would be best served at the Pingree Center.  We serve children all across the spectrum if it is an appropriate fit.  We determine if the placement is appropriate by completing a very thorough intake process to determine a diagnosis and if there are other co-occurring diagnoses, interactions with peers and adults, developmental milestones, behavioral needs, and medical needs.

Often, young children who are accepted for treatment at the Pingree Center if they would benefit from intensive early intervention to help them prepare to start kindergarten in the public school system.  Many of our clients attend the Center when they are 3 or 4 years old and are able to progress and gain the skills to make it possible for them to successfully transition to a public school for kindergarten.  We don’t only accept young children in need of early intervention, we accept referrals of all ages from toddlers through adulthood.  There is more complexity in determining appropriate fit for individuals who are elementary age through adulthood.  Referrals to the Pingree Center are often a good fit for our programming when children of any age have significant behaviors or other severe symptoms of ASD and co-occurring diagnoses.  Some children have very high skills in many areas, but they require the structure we provide to make progress.  The instruction they receive in public schools are not conducive to their style of learning.  If you believe your child would benefit from treatment at the Pingree Center, call us at 801-581-0194 to get on our list for an individualized consultation to determine if placement would be beneficial for your child.



Miller, L. A. (2006). Interventions targeting reciprocal social interaction in children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders: A meta-analysis. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Utah.

Wang, P. & Spillane, A. (2009). Evidence-based social skills interventions for children with autism: A meta-analysis. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44(3), 318-342.

Zhang, J. (2008). The efficacy of peer-mediated interventions for promoting social interactions among young children with autism spectrum disorders: A metaanalysis. Dissertation Abstracts International, 69(03).