The physicians at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health perform specialty consultations with children with developmental delays who also have behavioral problems. This includes children with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome and other conditions that cause developmental disabilities. An examination may identify treatable underlying conditions that contribute to problem behaviors. Those treatable conditions may include organic sleep disorders, dysphasia (impaired language abilities), seizures or communication disorders.

Early Assessment Through Reach

REACH—Riley Early Assessment of Children—is a major component of the behavior clinic. The goal of REACH is to provide early assessment of young children with communication delays and suspected autism spectrum disorders. Earlier diagnosis means children and their families have a diagnosis and answers sooner. This allows earlier treatment and the ability to address behavioral issues before they become problems.

Diagnosing The Whole Child

Our physicians work with families and schools to choose the best ways to treat behavioral issues. The goal of our team is to consider the whole child and how the child functions at home and at school.

We consider all issues that may be contributing to the behavioral problem, such as medical, physical, developmental and communication. For example, a child who cannot speak cannot tell you he is in pain. Hitting or other aggressive behaviors can start because of an inability to communicate a need. We take a broad view of the child and the child’s abilities to determine what may be the underlying causes of behavior issues.

Treatment often includes the use of:

  • Behavior management techniques
  • Behavior therapy
  • Medicines that may treat the behavior issue
  • Educational program recommendations


Autism Speaks Tool Kits: The Autism Speaks website provides tool kits that help with visual communication aids and other information on dealing with challenging behavioral issues.

Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center: This center is located in Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and staffed by faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. The center offers parent education events and visual support strategy tools, which are tools that help children with difficulty communicating.

Location(s) Offering Developmental Pediatrics Services