University Center for Developmental Disabilities

The University Center for Developmental Disabilities (UCDD) provides a program for children with autism in the Palm Desert area. This program was developed as a collaboration between the Inland Regional Center (IRC) and California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) to serve children with autism and other pervasive developmental disabilities and their families. The program is designed to complement existing programs by providing supplemental support services.

UCDD programs are supported by faculty and a professional staff of more than thirty trained teachers, counselors, and psychologists. Treatment strategies are research based and represent best practice.

An intensive one-to-one instructional design is used with the children enrolled in the UCDD program. In each two and one half hour session, children work with their teacher to increase communication, socialization and appropriate behaviors. Children typically attend the UCDD program for one session per week for approximately two years. Programming may also include more frequent participation in Center programming and work within the home or school environment, based on the child's individual needs.

Parents participate in a weekly informational and support group for parents led by a UCDD counselor. Parent group objectives include: increased parenting skills, knowledge of effective behavioral techniques, and reduction in feelings of isolation.

Services include direct instruction to children to increase socialization, communication and appropriate behaviors, support activities for parents and siblings, instruction for improved parenting, and activities to enhance the cooperation of schools and agencies that serve children enrolled in Center programs.

UCDD is located at The Desert ARC facility at 73255 Country Club Drive in Palm Desert. It is approximately three miles from the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. The proximity to the Palm Desert Campus allows for more CSUSB undergraduate and graduate student participation in field work at UCDD/PDC.

Families are referred to the UCDD program by their Regional Center case manager. Each child referred to the program receives a two part assessment, home and Center based, from UCDD staff.

For more information:
Call: 760-404-1371 or 909-537-5495
Email: or

Common Treatment Goals for Consumers

While treatment goals and objectives are individualized for each consumer, the following general treatment goals are common for all consumers:

Behavior Goals
Increase time on task
Increase task completion
Increase ability to transition between tasks
Increase ability to accept teacher-selected activities
Increase compliance/ability to follow directions
Decrease inappropriate or off-task activities

Socialization Goals
Increase attentiveness toward teacher
Increase visual attentiveness (eye contact)
Increase responsiveness to interaction initiated by teacher
Increase interactions initiated by consumer
Increase turn-taking skills
Increase imitation of behavior modeled by teacher

Communication Goals
Increase expressive communication
Increase consumers' teacher initiated or spontaneous communication
Increase receptive communication

Other Goals/Objectives
Increase fine motor skills
Increase gross motor skills
Increase letter/numeral recognition (Reading)
Increase computer touch screen or mouse

History of UCDD

The University Center for Developmental Disabilities (UCDD), formerly known as the California Transition Center (CTC), has been in operation on the campus of California State University, San Bernardino since 1990. The program began at the request of the Inland Regional Center (IRC) as a supplemental behavioral program to assist with the transition of two year olds with autism from home to daycare centers or preschools. The program initially served six children. Over the past fifteen years the design and scope of the program has changed several times. The current program provides once weekly services to children with autism and their families. While the consumer children attend an intensive, one-to-one behavioral program, parents attend a parent education and support group and siblings attend a program that provides arts and crafts activities, video and computer games, and homework assistance.

In November of 2000, the UCDD started a Satellite Program in the Coachella Valley. The San Bernardino program operates Monday through Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings. The Palm Desert program operates Monday through Thursday evenings with the parent groups offered in Spanish on two nights to better serve the low desert communities. Three parent groups in San Bernardino are also offered in Spanish. Together, the two programs currently provide weekly services to approximately 130 families. Families remain in the program an average of two and one half years.

Prevalence of Autism in the Inland Empire
As of June 30, 2010, the California Department of Developmental Services (CDDS) reports that there are 3,883 persons with autism residing in the Inland Regional Center service area. The IRC provides services and life-long case management for individuals with developmental disabilities who live in Riverside or San Bernardino Counties. Of these 888 consumers, 1,888 reside in Riverside County and 1,995 reside in San Bernardino County. Approximately 72% of these individuals live at home and approximately 18% take medication to help manage their challenging behaviors.

Current estimates suggest that the prevalence rate for autism in newborns is 1 in 150 with boys four times as likely to develop autism. The overall increase of children with autism in California since 1989 is over 634%. The cause of autism continues to remain unknown and to date there is no cure. Research has determined that positive behavioral interventions, like those used at the UCDD, are among the most effective strategies to help reduce the problematic behaviors often associated with autism. Finally, research conducted at the UCDD has demonstrated positive changes for all members of the family who attend the program.