Special Needs


Center for Autism and Related Conditions

The UT Physicians Pediatric Center for Autism and Related Conditions recognizes that the challenges faced by children with developmental concerns are complex neurodevelopmental issues in which multiple developmental concerns likely overlap and require a comprehensive look at every child. This understanding guides our approach to utilizing patient-centered, evidence-based methods in our diagnostic evaluations and our treatment recommendations. We are a multi-disciplinary team that includes developmental and behavioral pediatrics, child psychology, and speech and language pathology.

Dan L Duncan Children's Neurodevelopmental Clinic

The Dan L Duncan Children's Neurodevelopment Clinic provides comprehensive assessments of children, adolescents, and young adults who are thought to have developmental or behavioral problems, autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and learning disabilities such as dyslexia.


AERO Tutoring Programs

The mission of the AERO Tutoring Programs is to enhance children’s opportunities for successful living by providing them with individualized, research-based assessment and clinical services in reading. Our programs target both struggling students as well as students with grade level academic skills.

Brain, Behavior, and Injury Outcomes Program

This multidisciplinary program of research directed by Dr. Ewing-Cobbs includes longitudinal natural history studies as well as clinical trials examining a variety of outcomes in children and adults with acquired or developmental conditions that affect brain development and/or function.

Play and Learning Strategies (PALS)

Play and Learning Strategies is a preventive intervention program to strengthen the bond between parent and child and to stimulate early language, cognitive, and social development. The program is facilitated by a trained parent educator who presents each session to the parent(s) and coaches the parent(s) in using the specific techniques that are either demonstrated in person or via videotaped examples of real mothers and children utilizing specific techniques at age appropriate levels. Guided practice opportunities during each session help parents move from watching listening and talking, to doing. PALS Infant curriculum consists of 10 sessions and is appropriate for parents of infants from about 5 months to 18 months. PALS Toddler consists of 12 sessions and is appropriate for parents of toddlers from about 18 months to 3 years.

School-Based Tutoring Programs

Throughout the school year, our School-Based Programs provide early intervention to students who are at-risk for or who are experiencing reading failure as well as enrichment programs for students with grade level academic skills.

Special Education Training Fellowship

In order to best prepare individuals for independent research careers in the education sciences, the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) will provide four postdoctoral fellows with extensive training in special education research with a focus on language and literacy interventions.


Developmental Consequences of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury

Information from this project will inform how we identify children who are not meeting developmental milestones and how we design developmentally appropriate supports for children after traumatic brain injury that will allow them to participate fully at home, in school, and in the community.

Enhancing Early Learning for Children with Special Needs (ENABLE)

Enhancing Early Learning for Children with Special Needs is a four year project that studies the effectiveness of a parenting program on the early learning and motor development of infants with spina bifida and infants with tone and strength difficulties, including cerebral palsy. The study investigates whether an integrated parent responsiveness and motor support intervention targeting these infants will result in changes in parent behavior leading to improvements in the overall development of such core skills and competencies as attention, cognition, goal-directed play, language, and motor performance.

Interventions for Children with Attention and Reading Disorders (ICARD)

The purpose of ICARD research is to learn about the best treatment approaches for children who have both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and serious reading difficulties (RD).

Lactoferrin for Prevention of Sepsis in Infants

The high frequency of serious infections in premature infants, as well as their associated morbidity and mortality, is a critical barrier to progress in improving infant care. Lactoferrin is a factor in milk that helps decrease infection and improves neurodevelopment due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties. This clinical trial will study the effect of lactoferrin on the occurrence of sepsis and to determine whether, as a result of decreased infections, infants grow and develop better after having been on lactoferrin.

Phase 2 Pediatric Autologous Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cells for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

This purpose of this project is to determine the effect of intravenous infusion of autologous bone marrow mononuclear cells on brain structure and functional outcomes after severe traumatic brain injury in children. This study is designed as a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded Phase 2 safety/biological activity study.

Preparing Pequeños

Preparing Pequeños is studying the effectiveness of a comprehensive Spanish school readiness curriculum combined with small group instruction towards improving literacy, language, math, and social skills for prekindergarten English language learners from low-income backgrounds. The project will provide the educational field with information about the impact of small group instructional practices on language and academic development of English language learners from low-income backgrounds. The project also will provide the field with much-needed research surrounding the cross-linguistic transfer of Spanish to English within early academic settings. Because the project is longitudinal in nature, we also will be evaluating how educational-intensive small group instructional approaches impact English language learners' academic competencies in both languages in kindergarten.

School Readiness Curriculum Based Measurement System (SR-CBM)

This project addresses the pressing need for assessment tools that teachers can use to efficiently identify children’s strengths and weaknesses in English and Spanish, monitor students’ learning, and inform instruction. The School Readiness Curriculum Based Measurement System includes research-based progress monitoring tools that assess vocabulary, letter identification, graphophonemic knowledge, phonological awareness, math, and science in English and Spanish speakers aged 3 to 6 years.

Traumatic Stress After Pediatric Injury: Neurobiological Influences

This study will examine the impact of traumatic injury on the biomarkers of three stress-responsive neurobiological systems and their relation to cognitive and psychological health outcomes during the first year after traumatic brain injury or extracranial injury.