About Us

Our Goal

The Texas A&M – San Antonio Autism Lifeline Links Program (ALL) is working to increase service capacity and eliminate wait times and barriers for individuals on the autism spectrum throughout the life. ALL will do this by working collaboratively and transparently to create a comprehensive person-centered system of awareness, early diagnosis, treatment and services to improve the opportunities and outcomes for individuals with autism and their families.


Empower people with autism and families who care for them

  • Empower individuals, families, caretakers and the community with the knowledge and tools

Collect comprehensive data to inform community practices

  • Share plans, commit time and maximize resources to prioritize needs
  • Identify gaps in services and barriers to care

Serve the whole community through an enhanced system of care

  • Streamline the process for access to services and care
  • Build capacity to serve people with autism

Build awareness about people living with autism

  • Engage the entire community in participation, celebration and support of life events and milestones
  • Work to impact public policy and advocacy

Our Story

In 2015, staff from two autism and IDD providers and advocates, Brighton Center and Autism Treatment Center, approached the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation to ask for assistance to address the rising number of children diagnosed with autism and the gaps in the current system of care for the autism population. In 2016, the Foundation and its stakeholders formally established Autism Lifeline Links through an initiative funded by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. 

Guided by a steering committee comprised of community leaders, Autism Lifeline Links committed to cooperation, collaboration and communication to provide individuals living with autism streamlined solutions to address needs and simplify access to services and support from diagnosis throughout life. Autism Lifeline worked with community agencies providing care coordination, diagnostic services, behavioral support and therapy services, education and support groups, financial assistance for medical expenses and basic needs, respite care, registration with long-term support programs, and much more. 

In 2021, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and Texas A&M University - San Antonio entered into an agreement to transition Autism Lifeline Links to the College of Education and Human Development. Texas A&M University - San Antonio has a multi-phased plan to create an Autism Institute that will focus on a lifespan approach for people with autism that includes early identification of children with autism, primary and secondary education, family and self-advocate advocacy, and therapeutic interventions to improve the quality of life for people with autism and those who care for them.

Working collectively, Autism Lifeline Links:

ALL Community Partners

ALL's Community Partners are part of the information sharing and referral platform designed to streamline and simplify connecting individuals and families with agencies and organizations that provide services geared to ASD.

Since 2006, Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has functioned as a part of a statewide network of 39 Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authorities who serve as the single point of access and “front door” to publically-funded services and supports for persons with an Intellectual Disability, Developmental Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Related Condition in Bexar County. AACOG is responsible for planning, policy and resource development, and oversight of IDD services, whether the program is provided by a public or private entity. Our Service Coordinators/Case Managers help people access medical, social, educational, and other appropriate services and supports that will assist them to achieve an acceptable quality of life and community participation, and are actively involved in the lives of more than 4500 community members and their families. Service Coordination is provided to individuals enrolling in, participating in, or transitioning from: Nursing Facilities (NF); Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF/IID); State Supported Living Centers (SSLC); Home and Community-based Services (HCS); Texas Home Living (TxHmL); General Revenue (GR); and, Community First Choice (CFC).

The mission of Any Baby Can (ABC) is to serve families with children and youth facing serious health or developmental challenges. Any Baby Can services are provided at no cost – regardless of income – to families who have a child/individual with a chronic illness, disability, developmental delay or health risk. Any Baby Can provides support services to access community supports for various areas of concerns. The Case Management program is a support service customized to each family. Families develop a unique care plan to address gaps in areas of healthcare, education, support networks, safety and long-term planning. The Autism Services program provides educational trainings that focuses on behavioral strategies, improving communication & reducing behaviors. Trainings include foundation and secondary behavior strategies, toilet training, safety training, personal hygiene and human sexuality training and visual aid supports. Individuals and their families also have access to ABC’s wrap around services which include Sibling Support Group, Prescription Assistance program and The Center for Infant and Child Loss. The child/individual must reside in either Bexar, Atascosa, Bandera, Blanco, Caldwell, Comal, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Medina, Real, Uvalde or Wilson County.

The Autism Service Center of San Antonio is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2008 through an initiative headed by a consortium of healthcare funders concerned about the growing prevalence of autism and the rapid rise in the demand for qualified diagnostic services. The center does business as the Autism Community Network, a name which emphasizes the focus on community collaboration and networking.  The primary goals of the Autism Service Center of San Antonio are to provide interdisciplinary diagnosis and treatment for young children with autism spectrum disorder; education and training for autism service providers and families touched by autism; and comprehensive information and networking for our autism community.

The mission of the Autism Treatment Center is to assist people with autism and related disorders throughout their lives as they learn, play, work, and live in the community. We use the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based treatment for autism, to teach children and adults with severe autism how to communicate, learn, socialize with others, and overcome challenging behaviors so they can live healthier, happier, and more independent lives. ATC began in San Antonio in 1978 as a school and has expanded our programs over the years to meet the changing needs of individuals with autism at every stage of their lives. 

Today, ATC’s programs include: 

  1. A year-round TEA-approved nonpublic school that provides 1:1 instruction and, when needed, residential care for students who require specialized supports and behavioral interventions to achieve their academic goals. These students are placed with us by their schools districts because they cannot be served in a traditional school setting due to their aggressive, self-injurious, or other challenging behaviors; 
  2. An outpatient Medicaid clinic for autism-specific Speech and Occupational Therapy for low-income children; 
  3. Two Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) clinics, one on our main campus and one at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, that provide affordable behavior therapy to low-income children; 
  4. Residential care and therapeutic services for children who have been removed from their homes by the Texas Dept. of Family & Protective Services due to abuse or neglect;
  5. Residential care and day services for adults with challenging behaviors who have not been successful in other community settings.
<pOur mission is to enhance the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families; our vision, to provide quality innovative services to help achieve their maximum potential. We were founded in 1954 by parents who wanted to create a network of support and services for their children with special needs. Throughout our history, The Arc of San Antonio has responded to changing needs in our community by developing programs and partnerships that address the most critical issues facing people living with disabilities, including the growing population challenged with an autism spectrum disorder. The Arc offers a broad range services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including two adult day activity (dayhabilitation) centers, our family support services navigation and referral office, and two state-funded comprehensive case management offices assisting adults and children throughout the regional San Antonio area. When a family needs direction and guidance for their family member with IDD, The Arc is your first stop for information, direction, and assistance to effectively interact with the wider community support and service system. </p

For more than 50 years, Brighton has been the cornerstone of early intervention and educational services for children with disabilities and developmental delays in San Antonio. Through pediatric therapy services, early childhood education, parent workshops and special education advocacy, Brighton has the perfect combination of the right services at the right time to give children every opportunity they need to reach their full potential now and in the future. As the largest non-profit direct service provider in the Bexar County area, Brighton works with more than 3,500 children every year and has 140+ professionals on staff ranging from licensed therapists, credentialed early intervention specialists, teachers and advocates.

The Center for Health Care Services

The Center for Health Care Services (CHCS) improves the lives of people with mental health disorders, substance abuse challenges and developmental disabilities. CHCS is committed to excellence through continuous quality monitoring and improvement in a comprehensive performance measurement program. CHCS operates a wide range of psychosocial and medical programs in Bexar County whose target populations include individuals with behavioral health disorders and intellectual disabilities. CHCS also provides care and respite for the homeless population and those recovering from substance abuse problems. It is a public entity and political subdivision of the State of Texas, deriving its authority from Section 534.001 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, and, more specifically, from its Interlocal Agreement with the Bexar County Commissioners and the Bexar County Hospital District who license and oversee its operations. Originally referred to in its charter as the Bexar County Board of Trustees for Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, the Center for Health Care Services conducts its nationally recognized programs under the expert guidance of its Board of Trustees and leadership team.

Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) has been providing safe and fun-filled recreational experiences for individuals with special needs since 1979. Summer Camp is a series of six-day overnight summer camp sessions for children and adults with special needs who may not be eligible to attend other camps due to the severity of their disability. CAMP offers two sessions for individuals with mild to severe autism at their Camp CAMP location in Center Point, Texas. Campers experience typical summer activities, such as horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, outdoor cooking and arts and crafts. School-year programs consist of 9 monthly weekend camps designed much like the summer camp program, 9 monthly evening events (Parent’s Night Out) that offer fun and safe enrichment activities for children with special needs, and their siblings, and 9 monthly teen and adult outings (Teen and Adult Day Adventure) that offer individuals with special needs the ability to socialize and enjoy age appropriate recreation at sporting events, amusement parks, museums, and festivals. CAMP also offers Family Weekend Retreats that are designed to adapt all of its recreational and social activities for campers while including the entire family.

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa has a long history of caring for the children of San Antonio and South Texas. For more than 50 years, The Children’s Hospital has developed and grown services that meet specific needs in the community – and will continue to do so well into the future. Now, along with Baylor College of Medicine, the CAP Clinic at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio offers evaluation and management services for children with autism. If your child needs a diagnosis of autism or needs a diagnosis verified, our multidisciplinary autism clinic evaluation (for diagnosing autism only) is a six hour, full evaluation every Thursday. This consists of evaluations from Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics, Child Psychology, Speech/Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, and Audiology. If your child has already been diagnosed with autism, we also offer comprehensive outpatient treatment and etiological work-up to find the cause of autism, if possible.

The mission of disABILITYsa is to educate, advance, and engage individuals with disabilities by sharing information, creating opportunities, and strengthening organizations that serve them. disABILITYsa connects people with all types of disabilities and their families to information about local resources, programs and opportunities that promote independence and inclusion where they live, work and play.

The purpose of the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas is to empower and support individuals with Down Syndrome and their families in order to help them find access to resources, be engaged in their community, and progress toward self-actualization. Down Syndrome Association of South Texas is to provide lifelong services and support to children and adults with Down syndrome and their families in South Texas in order to optimize well-being, develop rewarding relationships, and foster inclusion in the community.

Respite Care of San Antonio’s (RCSA) mission is to protect, love, build trust, and nurture growth of children with special needs and complex medical conditions while strengthening the families caring for them. RCSA offers respite care and childcare programs that help children with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities achieve developmental milestones and reach their maximum potential. Respite sessions, such as Family Day Out are offered weekly in the Monte Vista neighborhood and at nonprofit locations across San Antonio. Established in 2000, RCSA's Developmental Childcare Center (Center) offers services Monday through Friday for children from six weeks to six years of age. RCSA’s unique program includes full time nursing care on-site, allowing the enrollment of children who require daily medical procedures, such as G-tube feedings and seizure treatments. To qualify for services, children must have a disability; however, non-disabled siblings may enroll. Care is also available for school-age children during scheduled school holidays and breaks.

Southwind Fields builds a sense of community and provide empowerment for adults with special needs through connection, meaningful experiences, spiritual growth, and fulfilling mission work. finding purpose through meaningful experiences.

The Southwind Fields programs provide adults with learning differences the opportunity to make an impact in their community. Working alongside one another, in "Community Impact Teams", Southwind Day Program as well as the Southwind Fields Tiny House program, locals are offered the opportunity to be contracted Southwind Fields employees, being hired onto Local Work Teams, earning a steady paycheck while being active participants in an employment setting of their choosing within our organization. We are committed to our locals' highest level of independence and authenticity.

Special Reach Inc. was founded out of a desire to enrich the lives of children with special needs in San Antonio. To this end, we provide summer enrichment programs and after school programs where children with special needs can have a fun and safe experience, foster independence by building social skills, improving physical fitness, and developing healthy outlets for stress reduction through structured fun activities. These activities afford parents and caregivers a well-deserved break while the children participate in stimulating and engaging activities. Our ever popular programs include: Party Night – This program is our unique twist on Parents’ Night Out. It is designed for children with special needs (such as autism) and their siblings, and it runs ALL year. Summer Enrichment Program - This program is designed exclusively for children with special needs and runs during the summer months. Our programs are provided by trained and experienced staff who are committed to the total development of each child.

Staff

Hugo Hernandez, Autism Program Director

Hugo Hernandez Hugo Hernandez is a focused, passionate and strategic leader with over 25 years of experience in diverse and accomplished project management and operations. Hugo has a reputation for building strong cross-functional teams and developing services that create a greater impact within our community.

He spent nearly 20 years at a local non-profit and where he began as a case manager in a satellite diagnostic clinic supporting families raising children diagnosed with autism. Through the years, he served in several roles including Director and President/CEO. He successfully worked to create and coordinate the first Walk for Autism in our area (now in its 18th year) and was responsible for the growth of many of the existing autism services in our community. Under his direction, case management services were expanded to focus on long-term and person-centered goals that improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

Hugo has served on numerous boards, community councils and committees that helped to shape services in our community. He served in a leadership role for Autism Lifeline Links since the beginning and chaired the Community Engagement Committee. Hugo also participated on a feasibility committee that led to the creation and implementation of a successful diagnostic clinic for individuals with autism in South Texas. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the San Antonio Humane Society where he supports the agency in protecting and improving the lives of dogs and cats by providing shelter, care, adoption, rescue, spay/neuter programs, and community education.

Hugo is passionate about helping families and individuals with special needs create new goals and dreams for their future. He is a South Texas native, is married and has three dogs. He is very proud and humbled to serve as the Autism Program Director for Autism Lifeline Links at Texas A&M University San Antonio.

Community Partners

Achievers Center for Education

Achievers Center for Education (ACE), based in San Antonio, Texas, is the only accredited, regional private school recognized by the Texas Education Agency that serves students functioning two or more grade levels below age appropriate. ACE provides a positive, safe learning environment for those students to reach their full potential. We feature a low student-to-teacher ratio and hands-on teaching methods that are producing amazing results. These teaching strategies have proven to be effective for many students with special needs, including autism, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, significant learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, Tourette syndrome, anxiety and/or depressive disorders, mild to moderate cognitive challenges, and Down syndrome.

Education Service Center, Region 20

The Education Service Center, Region 20 (ESC-20) is one of 20 regional education service agencies within Texas which assist school districts in improving student performance and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of school operations. We are a non-regulatory agency; our relationship with school districts is collaborative and supportive. ESC-20 positively impacts the learning community through high quality, cost effective products and services. Our vision is to be the definitive choice for leadership, innovation, and the advancement of learning. Quality performance is a commitment to excellence by each employee — achieved through teamwork and a process of continuous improvement. We believe: in service first; our employees drive our success; collaboration maximizes results; in purposeful and effective communication; change is opportunity; in cultivating strengths; and learning is life-long.

Foundation School for Autism

Foundation School for Autism is an open-enrollment charter school, meaning that students without autism may attend, although virtually everything at the school is done with autism in mind. Classrooms have a certified special education teacher, a behavior technician and an assistant. Speech and occupational therapists and a specialist in Applied Behavior Analysis also meet with students throughout the week.

NEED LOGO

Kinetic Kids are children from ALL walks of life who experience the daily struggles of life-long challenges including but not limited to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, down’s syndrome, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, brain tumors, cancers, or other neurological disorders. These children have the desire to perform age-appropriate recreational and sports activities like their typically developing peers. They are children who may use wheelchairs as their primary mobility or they may use a walker or crutches. They may also be independent with mobility but for other reasons, are limited in their participation from recreational activities with their peer group. Our organization was established to provide health, recreational, and educational services to these children and their families. Our mission is to provide unique experiences through physical and creative activities in a supportive environment to children with special needs who may otherwise be excluded.

Mission Road Ministries

Mission Road Ministries is a non-profit organization serving more than 825 children & adults with intellectual & other developmental disabilities each day with residential, day services & vocational programs in San Antonio, Texas helping clients reach independence, productivity & inclusion in the community. Mission Road Ministries' children's programs provide residential care for children ages 3-17 years of age who have moderate, specialized or intensive levels of an intellectual developmental disability. Mission Road serves children from ALL over Texas. Mission Road Developmental Center provides residential care for adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities through the ICF-MR (Intermediate Care Facility-Mental Retardation) program and the HCS (Home and Community-Based Services) programs. Vocational programs are provided by The Unicorn Centers, Inc., located near the medical center in Northwest San Antonio. Fully governed under the direction of Mission Road Ministries, The Unicorn Centers provides both residents of Mission Road community homes and those living elsewhere, with vocational and social activities appropriate for adults living with intellectual developmental disabilities.

Reaching Maximum Independence (RMI)

Reaching Maximum Independence, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. RMI's mission is to assist children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their individual maximum level of independence. Our group homes, supported apartment programs and foster care services allow individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to choose the residential option that best meets their needs. RMI's Life Enrichment Day Program and Alamo Heights Adventure Club provides opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities to learn, work, volunteer and have fun as an active member of the community. RMI welcomes opportunities to share information or provide expertise on issues that affect people with developmental disabilities. Our professional staff are available for resource fairs and presentations to educators, healthcare professionals, human service providers and families. 

SA Clubhouse

The San Antonio Clubhouse is dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness and developmental disabilities by providing opportunities for our members to live, work, and learn, while contributing their talents through a community of mutual support. The San Antonio Clubhouse is a part of the international Clubhouse movement. We are a professional self-help program, operated by men and women recovering from mental illness, in collaboration with a caring staff. The emphasis at the Clubhouse is on relationships — member to member, and member to staff. Members engage with each other to regain their productivity and self-confidence, resume their lives, and re-enter society. Members also take part in promoting their rights, and in erasing the stigma that often separates them from their neighbors.

UTSA's Teacher Education Autism Model Center

UTSA’s Teacher Education Autism Model (TEAM) Center is a university-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) clinic to serve the needs of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities in South Texas. Students and faculty at the TEAM Center apply the principles of behavior analysis to address the challenges of autism and related disorders through research, teaching, and service.

The Data

What are the numbers?

30K+

people currently living with ASD in the San Antonio CBSA*

$2B

overall economic impact in the San Antonio CBSA

4K+

students receive special education support for autism today

237%

projected annual increase in the number of children needing service

And the numbers keep growing…

* San Antonio Core Based Statistical Area (Bexar, Bandera, Comal, Kendall, Atascosa, Guadalupe, Medina and Wilson Counties)


Caring for ASDs has significant cost throughout a person’s life. In the CBSA, the estimated overall economic impact of dealing with ASDs exceeds $2 billion


Ages 0-17

  • Special education expense is the most significant cost of caring for children with ASDs.
    • For children with intellectual disabilities, this expense is estimated to be over $60,000 per year, over 50% of total costs
    • Decline in Special Ed costs for older children may be a “reality” versus optimal…costs may be significantly higher
Component Cost per Year: SA CBSA (In Millions)
With ID Without ID
Residential Care $10.2 $7.6
Special Education 156.6 117.5
Services
  Medical 39.9 29.9
  Nonmedical 32.3 24.2
Productivity loss (parents) 53.1 79.6
Total Costs 292.1 258.9
Pediatric Total 550.9

Ages 18+

  • The yearly costs attributed to ASD do not substantially decrease when a child transitions out of school (Costs are estimated to increase by $2,336 per year for individuals with ID)
  • Productivity loss to the individual with ASD is a significant portion (31.3%) of the overall yearly cost
    • According to Autism Speaks, 16.8% of the population living with disabilities are employed
Component Cost per Year: SA CBSA (In Millions)
With ID Without ID
Accommodations $336.3 $252.2
Employment Support 6.6 4.9
Services
  Medical 252.5 189.4
  Nonmedical 105.9 79.4
Productivity loss
  Individual with ASD 83.5 125.3
  Parents 10.6 15.9
Total Costs 795.4 667.1
Adult Total 1,462.5
SA CBSA Total 2,013.4

The Case for Early Intervention

Effective early intervention beginning before age 3 can dramatically increase a child’s success in attending kindergarten with typically developing peers. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, this can reduce the cost of education by more than $10,000 per child per year contrasted to those who do not receive early intervention.

As noted by Autism Speaks,

“…toddlers and preschoolers on the autism spectrum who receive intensive behavioral intervention through Applied Behavior Analysis (“ABA”) benefit from significant boosts to their IQ and social-communication skills, and improvement in underlying brain responses to social cues. This type of high-quality early intervention more than pays for itself, leading to long-term cost savings and a reduction in the subsequent need for therapy and educational support services.”

Currently, Medicaid does not pay for ABA therapy in Texas. Autism Lifeline Links supports a legislative agenda advocating for Medicaid coverage of ABA therapy, and to make the case for equitable access to this intensive and effective intervention for families.

Autism Lifeline Links Privacy Statement

Your privacy is important to us. This privacy statement explains the personal data we collect from you and how we use it. We encourage you to read the summary below and to contact Autism Lifeline Links if you'd like more information.

Autism Lifeline Links is a network of clinicians, social services and other entities providing services to individuals with autism. These services are provided, in part, through a web-based HIPAA-secured platform operated by TAVConnect, which meets rigorous standards for data protection. Your personal information is gathered for demographic purposes only and may be shared between one or more of the agencies/entities participating in Autism Lifeline Links for the purpose of providing services or referring you to an ALL referral agency.

To find out more about participation in Autism Lifeline Links, please contact us.

Committees

The most significant work achieved by ALL has been done in one of our four Committees – Community Engagement, Public Policy and Advocacy, Metrics, and Adult Public Policy and Advocacy.

Committees consist of over 100 autism and IDD stakeholders that meet regularly to dig deeper into existing systems and challenges, create alignment across the community, and identify solutions.

ALL has engaged people who are working directly with families and individuals - family advocates, school district personnel, self-advocates, therapists, and many others to work collaboratively.

It’s your turn to get involved and make a difference.

Committee Purpose Meetings Members
Community Engagement Reach new people in the community to drive registration and engage in partnership to move objectives forward. 2nd Tuesday — 11am Any Baby Can, Autism Community Network, The Arc, Respite Care, Edgewood ISD, AACOG, Southwind Fields, Autism Treatment Center, Blue Sprig, 1-2-1 Education Solutions
Public Policy Engage stakeholders to educate the community and elected officials on issues facing people with autism and IDD to improve quality of life and system of care. 1st Wednesday — 10am Southwind Fields, A List Consulting, Special Reach, Blue Sprig, Learn with ABA, DisabilitySA, Morgan’s Wonderland, TAMUSA, Brighton
Metrics Evaluate data elements, train and support users on quality data entry, utilize data to drive outcomes. 1st Tuesday — 1pm Brighton, Any Baby Can, The Arc, Camp, DisabilitySA
Adult Public Policy & Community Engagement Engage stakeholders, develop partnerships, educate community and elected officials on issues facing adults with autism and IDD to improve quality of life and system of care. 4th Thursday — 3:30pm The Arc, Alamo Heights ISD, Team Ability, Southwind Fields, ABA Center 4 Excellence, AACOG, Disability SA, TAMUSA, Team Ability

We are looking for additional members from all aspects of the community but have a focus on therapy providers, teachers, medical provider and parents.

Contact us to get more information and to join a committee.