If you are navigating the maze of securing support for an autism diagnosis, Champaign-Urbana offers many resources for families looking for assistance.
Known for compassionate care and clinical and excellence, Lighthouse Autism Center offers center-based ABA therapy in Champaign. Located at 2301 W. Bradley Ave., Lighthouse features a unique therapy model called Lighthouse Fusion. Lighthouse Fusion combines ABA therapy and speech therapy into one transformative approach to therapy for children with autism. By fusing speech therapy into a child’s daily ABA therapy program, learners are reaching their language goals faster and ultimately experience better outcomes. Developed by a team of a team of dually certified speech-language pathologists and behavior analysts — some of only a handful of dually certified practitioners in the world– children participate in unique co-treat sessions where three clinicians collaborate with one child to develop goals and deliver therapy. Through this model, children are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. Lighthouse Autism Center believes that each child has unique and unlimited potential and with their Lighthouse Fusion therapy model, families have a wider circle of support with experienced professionals working together for their child.
Lighthouse Autism Center in Champaign is now enrolling. Call (217) 295-2491 to learn more and speak with a family outreach coordinator today. Visit their website or Facebook page.
According to 2023 data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 out of 44 children has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a developmental delay often seen in children demonstrating delays in communication skills or social interaction, as well as sensory needs.
Children with autism may require the support of speech/language therapists who can work to receptively and expressively improve their education. Children with autism may have difficulty using language to get their needs met and therapists can help them to put strategies into place for easing this difficulty. Speech therapists may also assist children with their articulation of specific words when the errors are not considered to be age appropriate at that time.
Speech therapists or social workers may work with the child or the school team to enhance or facilitate social communication and play activities with other children. Occupational therapists may help a family or classroom team to support sensory needs and to facilitate fine motor play as it pertains to experiences at school such as playing with small toys, coloring, drawing shapes, and participating in independent tasks such as hanging up coats/backpacks, washing hands, etc. All providers may be working with children to increase their joint attention and engagement.
It is important to note that services provided within the educational setting are designed to support a child’s special education programming while services provided in a private facility are designed to support needs that impact a child’s functioning at home or in the community.
Some parents seek the help of an applied behavior analyst (ABA) therapist in order to work with their child in a discrete trial format. This therapist presents information in a highly systematic, structured, and repetitive format to ensure success with a skill before adding new layers to the desired end goal.
Trust your gut and seek additional assistance if you feel that your child might have missed his developmental milestones. Your pediatrician will typically refer you to a psychologist or other approved provider who has the tools and expertise to be able to perform an autism evaluation. School districts are also able to conduct an evaluation of a child in order to determine their educational eligibility for support of an autism diagnosis.
There are many avenues of support and assistance for families in and around Champaign-Urbana navigating a diagnosis of autism.
Behavioral Perspective, Inc. Apple Academy (4112 Fieldstone Road, Suite B, Champaign): Offers an intensive ABA program for learners ages 2-7. It offers in-home, in-clinic, and in-school services and supports as well as speech and occupational therapy. For more information, call (888) 308-3728 or visit Facebook, and Instagram.
Carle Therapy Services: Carle provides numerous therapy and rehabilitative services and supports such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Outpatient services are provided at various Carle locations around Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding communities.
Champaign County Metcad 9-1-1: This service allows for parents and caregivers to provide first responders with important information regarding family members or loved ones with special needs. Telecommunicators have access to special information to provide to first responders en route to a medical emergency. Please note that information must be updated annually.
Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (2212 Sangamon Dr., Champaign): CUSR was formed through a cooperative agreement with the Champaign and Urbana Park Districts to provide recreation programs and leisure services for residents with disabilities. Inclusion and specialized programs are available. For more information, email or call (217) 819-3980.
Child and Family Connections of Central Illinois (201 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign): Serving children and their families living in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean and Vermilion counties, CFC is the regional intake agency for children ages birth to 3 to enter the Illinois Early Intervention System. Early Intervention credentialed service coordinators work with families to develop an individualized family service plan and select service providers to meet the needs of the child. For more information, call (800) 877-1152.
If your child currently receives early intervention support, they will have a transition meeting prior to the child’s third birthday in order to get them set for the school district taking over their support at the age of 3. If a child is found to continue to be eligible for special education services, they can begin the school district’s early childhood program on their third birthday. Area early childhood centers include: Champaign Early Childhood Center, Middletown Preschool Program (Mahomet), SPECTRUM (children living in rural Champaign County. It has sites in Thomasboro, Philo and St. Joseph), and Urbana Early Childhood Center.
If your child has not received early intervention services and supports, you may be able to seek a preschool screening through the school district in which you reside. School districts perform these screenings on a district-by-district basis. Upon completion of the screening, the school district will determine if a further evaluation is warranted or if you qualify for its programming. For more information about school district affiliated preschool programs, check out our resource guide here.
Community Choices (44 E. Main St., Suite 419, Champaign): Its mission is to partner with people with disabilities in Champaign County in pursuit of independence, opportunity, and choice by offering quality, self-directed supports and services in order to assist in community living. For more information, call (217) 621-1090.
CU Able is for families that have children with special needs and was started by four local moms on Facebook to connect families with one another. The closed group has more than 400 members who share their challenges, questions and resources to help support one another. For more information, contact email@example.com.
CU Autism Network: The Champaign-Urbana Autism Network is a local non-profit agency. Its mission is to support persons on the autism spectrum, their families, caregivers, educators, other professionals, and the public by providing opportunities for support and networking, education, training, and advocacy, along with promoting awareness and acceptance. For more information, visit its website or Facebook.
Developmental Services Center (1304 W. Bradley Ave., Champaign): DSC serves approximately 1,100 children and adults with developmental disabilities, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, cognitive disabilities, Down syndrome, or other conditions. Services include case management and family support, an early intervention program and developmental training. For more information, call (217) 356-9176.
First Strokes Swim Academy (2702 Hundman Dr., Suite 7, Champaign): First Strokes Swim Academy offers swim lessons with instructors who have undergone IBCCES autism training and certification. This program allows for aquatics professionals to have a deeper understanding of autism and work in the water with clients with specialized sensory and communicative needs. This training is a component of the Certified Autism Center™ Program which aims to train organizations such as water parks, amusement parks, park and recreation facilities and more to be an inclusive and welcoming space for all guests including those with autism or other cognitive disorders.
Illinois Assistive Technology Program (701 N. Walnut St., Springfield): Not-for-profit organization that helps access assistive technology devices for trial, loan, etc. Assistance is available for financing for assistive technology and also for buying and selling equipment. For more information call (217) 522-7985 or email.
Larkin’s Place (2501 Fields South Dr., Champaign): The Stephens Family YMCA is specifically designed to support and integrate children and families at all developmental levels, encouraging acceptance, play and growth for everyone. While the philosophy and spirit of Larkin’s Place permeates every aspect of the Y from design to programming, classes designated as “Larkin’s Place Programming” incorporate additional therapeutic, developmental and social goals, actively seeking to bring together typically and atypically developing participants in an effort to cross social barriers and enact positive personal and societal change. Larkin’s Place offers a variety of programs, including aquatic therapy, social groups, handwriting groups, and play groups. Friday Night Fun groups are available for young teens and older. These feature recreational opportunities for members and non-members. For more information, call (217) 359-9622.
Learn Play Live Occupational Therapy: Learn Play Live Occupational Therapy provides services for toddler through school-aged children. Telehealth and direct occupational therapy services are available.
Lighthouse Autism Center (2301 W. Bradley Ave., Champaign): Known for clinical and operational excellence, Lighthouse Autism Center is now offering center-based ABA therapy in Champaign. With an innovative clinical model called Lighthouse Fusion, therapy at Lighthouse combines the sciences of ABA therapy and speech therapy into one transformative treatment for children with autism. Lighthouse Autism Center in Champaign is now enrolling. Call (217) 295-2491 to learn more.
Prairie Wind Speech Therapy (1803 Woodfield Dr., Suite C, Savoy): Offering speech language services; free consultation before beginning therapy services. For more information, call (401) 217-9544.
Rosecrance: Offers assessment and treatment of childhood emotional disorders in a kid friendly environment. For more information, call (888) 928-0010.
Social Champaign: Joan Gorsuch provides social skills and social competency groups for students from age 6 through adulthood. Working in this area for 12 years, Joan is affiliated with The Autism Program at The University of Illinois and meets with groups in her private office. Her groups are founded on the work of Social Thinking(R) by Michelle Garcia Winner. She is also a UCLA PEERS (R) Certified Provider and a Girls Night Out (R) Certified Provider. Email or call 217-766-8807.
Special Olympics (902 N. Country Fair Dr. #7, Champaign): Provides specialized recreation and fitness activities for individuals with disabilities in Kankakee, Iroquois, Ford, Piatt, Champaign, and Vermilion counties. Call (217) 355-1750.
TAP (The Autism Program) (904 W. Nevada Ave., Urbana): TAP is part of a statewide network of resources for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the state of Illinois and is one of five regional training centers. It is a joint program of the Department of Human and Community Development and the Department of Special Education. The Resource Room is housed in the Family Resiliency Center and provides a place where families and professionals can find information or preview materials that might be helpful to them. It provides training, support, and visuals/communication strategies for children on the autism spectrum and their families. For more information, call (217) 244-1395.
The Able Center (3011 Village Office Place, Suite C2, Champaign): Provides pediatric neuropsychological evaluations and interventions. For more information, visit its website or call (309) 661-8046.
The Place for Children with Autism (301 S. Vine St, Unit 10, Urbana): Offers ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapy in a preschool-like setting for children ages 2-6. The goal of programming is to increase communication skills, social skills, independent living skills and reduce challenging behaviors that interfere with learning. For more information, call (224) 436-0788.
Tom Jones Challenger League: Provides children with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. All games and practices are held at AMBUCS Park in Urbana featuring a handicap accessible park and ball diamond. Volunteers and buddies are present on the field to allow parents to spectate and enjoy the experience of their child participating on a sporting team. For more information, email or call (217) 239-1152.
Total Spectrum (517 W. Town Center Blvd., Champaign): Offers ABA therapy at its Champaign location. Programs are developed to help children learn to communicate and develop friendships. For more information, call .
University of Illinois Autism Clinic (505 E. Green St., Champaign): Housed within the University of Illinois Department of Psychology Psychological Services Center, it is an autism clinic headed by Amy Cohen focusing on diagnosing and treating autism and other developmental disabilities. For more information, call (217) 333-0041 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Illinois Speech-Language Pathology Clinic (2001 S. Oak St. Suite B, Champaign): Individual and group therapy for children and adults conducted by graduate students and overseen by certified speech language pathologists. For more information, call (217) 333-2205.
Did we miss your facility or organization? Email us here so that we can provide a comprehensive listing of resources available to support an autism diagnosis in our community.