IU School of Medicine



This elective will provide medical students with experience in the diagnosis, behavioral intervention, and pharmacologic management of autism and related developmental disorders. During the elective, the student will work toward developing a solid knowledge base derived from their preceptors, observation, and participation in patient interactions, and independent literature searches. There will also be an opportunity for the student to learn about clinical research. The student will meet with the course director prior to the rotation to discuss areas of interest and review goals and expectations for the elective. Time will be spent in preceptorship with the course instructors while the student participates in outpatient follow-up within the evaluation and medication management clinics. In addition, the student will observe and learn about behavioral and school interventions.

Elective Details:

Primary Contact for Add/Drops: Vicki Anderson (vpetrou@iupui.edu)

Director: Cassie D Karlsson, M.D.

Campus: Indianapolis

Location: Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health (Indianapolis)

Learning Objectives

  • 1) Summarize and explain the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders and related developmental disorders through working closely with faculty who specialize in the field (PC2)
  • 2) Demonstrate the collection and presentation of patient data from gathering a history and assessing the patient in order to formulate a differential diagnosis and treatment plan (PC1)
  • 3) Interact compassionately and communicate well with the patients and their families (ISC2)
  • 4) Discuss treatment options, both medication and psychotherapeutic interventions, pertinent to this population (MK5)
  • 5) Recognize the components of a physician-patient/family relationship and be able to evaluate on a case by case basis their importance to patient care (SBP2)
  • 6) Conduct relevant literature searches relevant to patients seen in the clinic, or topics of interest identified (PBLI1)
  • 7) Prepare and deliver a 20-minute presentation to the autism faculty and staff on a topic of interest relevant to the field (ISC5)


  • Clinical Performance Evaluation Form; (Final assessment is completed by course director after reviewing student performance with other instructors. Assessments are made via direct observation, case presentations and discussions with faculty, and final oral presentation).

Enrollment Information

Prerequisites: 3rd or 4th year status; must have completed Psychiatry clerkship

Availability with Max Students per Month:


Duty Hours: <40

Time Distribution: 85% Clinical; 5% Research; 5% Lecture; 5% Library

Elective Type Category: CP - Clinical Practice

Notes and Enrollment Information:

Add/Drop Contact Person: Vicki Anderson (vpetrou@iupui.edu) Please contact Vicki Anderson (vpetrou@iupui.edu) before scheduling to determine availability or if you are interested in a rotation date that is currently closed. Students should also contact faculty a minimum of 4 weeks prior to start of elective.

Third Year Elective? Yes

Interprofessional Skills and Service Learning

Interprofessional Collaborative Skills: Yes

Skills Description: Routine experiences with psychology, social work, and nurse care managers throughout the elective, often as part of a multidisciplinary team

Service Learning Included: None