Welcome to ACE

The Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) and Healthy Infant Development Laboratory is dedicated to discovering the causes of autism and paving the way for more effective autism treatment. We focus on research to help identify what autism looks like in babies as young as 12 months. Our research is completely funded by grants and donations from people like you! Read more.

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Concerned Your Child Has Autism?

Does your child have Autism?

A recent CDC report (2018) notes that 1 in 59 children born each year will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Are you concerned your child might be one of them?

Health Hero Highlights

Our Center is happy to introduce the Health Hero of the Month! During selected months, we will be highlighting a healthcare staff member within our pediatric network who has demonstrated an outstanding job at identifying early signs of developmental delays and supported their community. 

In May, we chose Dr. Eric Reed from SHARP Rees-Stealy Medical Group in La Mesa as the Health Hero of the month! 

Click here to read more about Dr. Reed!Dr. Eric Reed

Parent Comments

"When I hear the name Dr. Eric Courchesne my ears perk up and I get goose bumps. When I think about the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence and the wonderful staff and work they do there, I hold my breath for a few seconds and time stands still. You see, my family came across information about his work many years ago. Having one child on the ASD spectrum and another diagnosed as possibly on the spectrum my husband and I were very intrigued by his study. We signed up both kids and began their assessments but what turned out to be most important to us was the MRI scans. The work they do there for Autism is fantastic but the scan that very possibly saved my son's life would be a turning point for my family. While doing their routine brain scan to look at the brain's activity under certain circumstances, they made an alarming discovery. Luckily for us, they not only do their own research but they have a team of other people that check their work and look at the MRIs.  A brain tumor was found at my son's cerebellum and just like that ASD was the least of our fears. Within two weeks we had brain surgery scheduled and I do not want to know what might have happened had this discovery not been found at that time before it grew any bigger or grew into other parts of his brain that could have caused permanent damage. My son is happy and healthy. We think about our UCSD team often and feel so lucky that we just so happened to be a part of such a critical study. Please do what you can to help this very important work that touches so many lives, searches for answers, and works on more effective treatment for Autism."
Jennifer K. 

News & Events

NEW Study Elucidates Link Between A Gene Network and ASD Symptom Severity
Nature Neuroscience

A recent genetic study our Center published in Nature Neuroscience uses human iPSC-derived neuron models of ASD to show the degree of dysregulation in a particular gene network is correlated with the severity of ASD symptoms. Read more.

UCSD ACE Selected As A CDC Study Site Through ADDM

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has selected UCSD ACE as one of only 10 sites in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Our Center will shed light on the number of individuals living with autism and other developmental disabilities in the San Diego community. Click here to learn more about the program.

Sparking a Change: Over 5,000 Individuals Participating in SPARK Through UCSD ACE  

SPARK is the largest autism research project in US history, and the mission is simple: speed up research and advance our understanding of autism to help improve lives. Over 5,000 individuals with ASD and their family members have signed up for SPARK through UCSD ACE. Click here to join us today! 

NEW Study Shows ASD Diagnoses Stable at 14 Months OldCNN
Results from a recent study led by Dr. Karen Pierce suggest that accurate, reliable screening is possible much earlier than previously thought before. Click here to view CNN news coverage on the study.  

Dr. Pierce's Journey With Autism
Dr. Pierce

Parent Comments

As Dr. Carter shared the insights from my son's final ACE assessment, I began to cry.  Joy, relief, gratitude- emotion overcame me as we discussed the culmination of K's progress since coming to ACE two short years ago.  This stellar team listened to us and validated our concerns when the pediatrician told us to "wait and see".  With compassion, dedication, and pioneering science, ACE instilled hope and connected us with resources to invest in our child's development.  Now, at age three, K is laughing, smiling, making eye contact, and making friendships.  Each day with this bright boy is a testament to what a child at risk for autism can achieve through early intervention, and what ACE is achieving for so many children like mine

Stephanie K.

At a time when we were concerned and anxious to find out more about our son and his needs, ACE was the first resource to evaluate him. When other resources were hindered by waitlists, high costs, and insurance woes - Dr. Carter and her staff were there for us. Her evaluation was incredibly thorough and initiated his early intervention. We are incredibly grateful to ACE and credit them in our son's progress. 
Sarah N.

Quick Links

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Autism Research 

Research Programs at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence are contributing to the overall understanding of autism spectrum disorder.

Need To Train Typical Kids How to Play with Children With Autism?

 Give the Peer Manual to the typical peer and use the Teacher Manual to help the adult understand how to run the play sessions

Also Check Out...

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Parent Comments

We are thankful for the ACE Center. They were able to help us find answers to questions that we were asking and to give us the much needed diagnosis. Because the study included an MRI, we also learned about a brain cyst our son has. With that knowledge, we were able to find the treatments and therapies we needed, which made all the difference in our family's life. 
Candace S.

Dr. Carter and the whole ACE team were key in helping identifying and recommending services to support our son. With Dr. Carter's recommendations, we were able to find an educational environment that has helped our son build and develop key skills that will serve him for a lifetime. We are forever grateful. 
Shannon C.