Center for Autism Research Evaluation and Service

Setting the Standard for Thorough Developmental Assessment and Supportive Services for Children and Their Families in San Diego County and Southern California



C.A.R.E.S. Services

C.A.R.E.S offers a wide variety of services that can be tailored to suit your individual needs. Services range from assessment and testing to ABA Services and parent training. Please select one of the links below to read about our services in greater detail.

Applied Behavioral Analysis Assessment, Testing, and Evaluation Services  
Psychological and Psychiatric Outpatient Services
School District Training and Services Academic and Behavior Clinic
Social Skills Groups  + Parent Education Workshops
Comprehensive Assessment and Stabilization Services (CASS)  + Research

Applied Behavioral Analysis

CARES provides high quality Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services to children of all ages. Services are designed to increase useful behaviors and reduce those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. ABA is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in children and improve quality of life. Services are provided in the home or other settings by trained professionals, which:

  • Foster self-reliance and independence

  • Improve social skills

  • Build healthy relationships

  • Understand emotions and emotional regulation

  • Develop skills to improve academic performance

  • Teach self-awareness


Assessment, Testing, and Evaluation Services

Evaluation and assessment services for children and adults are completed by licensed clinical psychologists or registered psychological assistants working under the license of a clinical psychologist trained in the area of autism. Psychological, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological assessment services offered at CARES include standardized testing, parent interview, and clinical observation to assess autistic spectrum disorders, developmental delays and other neurodevelopmental disorders.


Psychological and Psychiatric Outpatient Services

CARES provides an array of outpatient services for toddlers, young children, adolescents, adults, couples and families treating individuals on the autism spectrum or other developmental disorders. In addition, services are available for other co-occurring behavioral health conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. Our experienced therapists offer extended services to family members for individual, couple and family therapy. Outpatient services are designed to teach strategies for managing problem behaviors; develop skills to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, phobia, feeding issues, and impulse control; improve social skills, self-management and self-esteem. Services include:

  • Psychiatric assessment

  • Medication consultation and management

  • Play therapy

  • Dialectical behavior therapy – individual skill and parent skill training

  • Cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety, depression, phobia and impulse control

  • Treatment team collaboration


School District Training
and Services

Students with autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders have diverse needs and abilities. CARES provides assistance to school district personnel in understanding neurodevelopmental disorders and how research-based interventions can be utilized to meet student needs. From students with significant behavioral and communication challenges, to students with average cognitive and academic skills who face social challenges each day, our trainings and services are tailored to meet the needs of both school districts and families.


Workshops and Trainings

CARES offers a wide range of workshops and trainings for school district personnel on a half day or full day basis including: normal child development, an overview of autism, applied behavior analysis, discrete trial training, pivotal response training, group instruction, verbal behavioral and generalization.


Teacher and
Aide Consultation

CARES staff is available to consult with teachers and aides regarding behavioral techniques in a classroom, or with an individual student.  Teacher and aide training can be individualized depending upon the needs of the student(s).


Student Services

We provide an array of services to students in preschool through high school and adult transition.  Utilizing best-practice interventions, our services promote optimal functioning and enhance each individual’s quality of life.  These services include;

Classroom and Shadow Aide Services:  Our staff will assist in a classroom with all students or individually with one student by monitoring the work performance of school personnel and collaborating on ways to utilize school staff in the best way possible.

Social Skills Groups: CARES offers consultation for ongoing social skills and lunch buddy type groups. We also offer our “Little Builders” program during the extended school year for higher functioning students.

Assessment and Testing: We provide assessments including psychological, psychoeducational and neuropsychological to school districts in order to provide a more comprehensive examination of students. Psychiatric consultations are also available.


Academic and Behavior Clinic

The CARES Academic Behavior Clinic (ABC) is a diagnostic program that provides a comprehensive evaluation and written report of a child’s academic and adaptive behavior skills. The ABC is designed to provide a functional behavioral analysis and comprehensive evaluation that facilitates an optimal match between the development of effective teaching methods and each child’s individual developmental and behavioral needs, including:

  • Comprehensive psychological and psychiatric evaluations

  • Speech and language evaluation

  • Academic skill level evaluation

  • Functional behavior analysis

  • 57 hours of classroom attendance over 30 days

  • Diagnostic teaching with a 1:1 ratio

  • Parent training and education as needed

  • Attendance at an IEP evaluation upon request

  • Teacher/Aid training observation at our center


Social Skills Groups

Friendships are important to helping children thrive and live a fulfilling life. Our social skills are led by experienced and trained staff to facilitate healthy peer relationships, teach coping mechanisms, and provide tools to cope with social changes and learning healthy choices for emotional expression. Some services involve intensive direct teaching within the child’s home environment. Parental involvement is crucial to the generalization and maintenance of skills children will learn. Parents are trained in using techniques that are demonstrated in social skills groups. Some services are available in home and community-based settings. Services include:

  • Little Builders – Ages 3-7

  • Social Skill Builders – Ages 7-17

  • Children’s Friendship Training

  • Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS)

Children’s Friendship Training and PEERS groups are designed for motivated elementary, middle, and high school aged children who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. The skills groups are parent-assisted and aimed at improving social adaptive skills and friendship quality among children and adolescents with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s disorder.


Parent Education Workshops

CARES offers parent education workshops on different topics related to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Anyone interested in attending is welcome, and parents do not need to have a child receiving treatment with CARES. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Typical child development, pervasive developmental disorders, and evidence-based ABA practices

  • Teaching strategies and supports

  • Moving forward: generalization, maintenance, and teaching self-help skills

  • An overview of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), discrete trial, and behavior management strategies

  • Autism and family stress

  • Pivotal response training

  • Alternative communication and verbal behavior

  • Self-help skills: toilet training and food aversion and autism

  • Social stories and social skills training

  • Inclusive education for children with autism

  • Biomedical and pharmacological interventions in autism


Comprehensive Assessment and Stabilization Services (CASS)

CASS is a mobile mental health and crisis stabilization team comprised of professionals with expertise working with infants to teenage youth exposed to psychosocial issues that include trauma, emotional dysregulation, aggression, and substance abuse. The goal is to increase success and stability in the home and at school, by providing customized support to the individual and family. CASS works with each child’s family to identify strengths and opportunities to implement individualized strategies that are family and solution focused. To accomplish this, CASS services combine a comprehensive assessment along with treatment services tailored to each individual and family need. Services may include short-term and intensive individual/family therapy, case management, crisis stabilization, and medication management. CASS is currently available to Anthem Blue Cross beneficiaries only.



CARES is committed to the ongoing research concerning persons with neurodevelopmental disorders. Currently, CARES is a key collaborator in multiple NIH studies involving brain development in autism (Axel Muller: Principle Investigator and Jeanne Townsend: Principle Investigator), Aging in Autism (Ruth Carper: Principle Investigator), and EEG Biofeedback (Jamie Pineda: Principle Investigator). Alan Lincoln, PhD, MSCP, Vice President of Clinical Research and Internship Training Programs, is a scientific investigator or consultant on each of these current and ongoing research projects.

Most recently, a research study was completed that was funded in part by the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR) to study the effectiveness of the anxiety treatment, Coping Cat, for children and adolescents with autism. NFAR recently partially funded a study that is evaluating the effectiveness of the UCLA PEERS program to teach friendship skills in children and adolescents with autism.

Our center has supported multiple studies evaluating the effectiveness of social stories for persons with autism and the development of an evidence-based parent training program for caregivers who have a child with autism. Other research has involved studies involving the evaluation of executive function skills in persons with autism, the evaluation of rapid intermodality shifting skills in persons with autism, the identification and resources for Native Americans with autism, and the evaluation of attention skills for persons with autism.

CARES periodically recruits volunteers to participate in ongoing research studies. Please contact us at 858-444-8823 if you would like to participate.




© 2020 All Rights Reserved · Fred Finch Youth & Family Services 

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