URBANDALE, Iowa — Autism affects one out of every 44 children nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, those on the spectrum in Iowa have a new option to thrive with their differences.

Caravel Autism Health cut the ribbon on its autism therapy clinic in Urbandale on Wednesday. The location is Caravel’s second in the metro and fourth in the state.

The therapy center will focus on educating children on the spectrum in a way that is tailored to their conditions.

“Play is their work. It’s about learning new communication skills and new social skills,” said Jessica Crawford of Caravel Autism Health. “They’re going to come in and play with toys, be with peers, and get to practice those skills.”

Merriam-Webster defines autism as, “a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized especially by difficulties in forming and maintaining social relationships.”

Crawford said the signs of autism have become more widely known in the past decade. She believes parents’ increased awareness to the condition is helping children get the care they need earlier in life.

“Thinking back to ten years ago, services were really difficult to come across,” Crawford said. “There were very few providers in the state and to see that there is so much more accessibility to services has been huge.”

Caravel also has facilities in Ankeny, Iowa City, and Davenport.