NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (Oct. 5, 2015) – Hospital for Special Care (HSC) unveiled plans today for Connecticut’s first in-patient unit designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). HSC responded to a request for proposal from the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and was awarded a $500,000 grant for development, staff recruitment and training for the in-patient autism unit. This eight bed unit will serve children from ages 10 to 21, and it will create 38 new in-state jobs.

Expected to open in November, the unit will be one of only 10 designated units in the country that provide inter-disciplinary treatment to meet the complex needs of children who need intensive treatment for aggression, self-injury, or severely impaired functioning which threatens their or others’ safety in the community.

"This service will help ensure that children with ASD receive the clinical treatment and support services that they need and deserve,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “With access to the right services and resources, many children with ASD grow up to lead independent lives, succeed in fulfilling careers, establish rewarding relationships, and make strong impacts in their communities. The Hospital for Special Care's in-patient program will have a critical impact on the lives of many here in Connecticut. It should be celebrated," Malloy said. 

“DDS looks forward to this new partnership with Hospital for Special Care and their work with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Since 2012, they have operated a robust outpatient autism clinic providing the highest level of services. This, along with their role as a complex care hospital in the state of Connecticut, will allow them to provide much needed support to individuals with ASD. Autism knows no demographic or geographic boundary, and this new unit located centrally in New Britain will be a great asset to many of Connecticut’s families affected by ASD,” said DDS Commissioner Morna Murray.

“Until now, families have had to leave Connecticut and travel to Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire or Maine to receive in-patient care for their children and adolescents with ASD” said Lynn Ricci, president and CEO, Hospital for Special Care. “The in-patient unit is the next step for HSC to continue to meet the specialized needs of this patient population in Connecticut. Driving out of state is an undue burden that disrupts family dynamics and can be financially challenging to many. ”

Each child will receive a comprehensive assessment to identify target behaviors. The evaluation will explore medical, behavioral, speech, occupational, family and environmental factors that may be contributing to the problem behaviors. Average length of stay is estimated to be 30-45 days based on a review of data from programs with the most complex children requiring hospitalization.

An individualized treatment plan will be developed to enhance each child’s ability to safely function at the highest level. The use of an interdisciplinary treatment team will allow for optimum treatment modalities by the various disciplines coordinating their expertise and efforts. The goals of the treatment team will include the development of effective treatment plans unique to the individual conducting multidisciplinary assessments and monitoring treatment outcomes.

The treatment team will include a child psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician, psychologists and behavioral analyst and behavioral technicians, nurses, occupational therapy and speech language pathology, as well as dieticians, social workers, case managers and pharmacists.

Care will be patient and family centered and treatment options will be as diverse and complex as the population itself. The unit will use an empirically validated interdisciplinary approach and maintain a high staff to patient ratio. Family members will be encouraged to be active participants in a child’s treatment.

Preparing children to return to their lives outside the hospital will be a primary focus from the day of admission. Through strong relationships with community providers and solid aftercare planning, the program’s goal is to assure patient and community safety at the time of discharge and reduce the likelihood of future emergency department visits and readmissions.

HSC has emerged as a leader in providing diagnostic, assessment and therapy services for children and adolescents in an outpatient setting at The Autism Center at Hospital for Special Care. As the first autism center in Connecticut, The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has recognized The Autism Center at Hospital for Special Care as the nation’s first Patient-centered Specialty Practice (PCSP).

HSC’s partnership with The University of Saint Joseph’s (USJ) Institute of Autism and Behavioral Studies and Yale University School of Medicine has allowed the center to provide evidence-based diagnostic and assessment abilities. These partnerships allow for vigorous training opportunities for professionals in the field. The Center has grown from providing services to 150 patients in the first year to serving more than 750 patients from more than 70 percent of the towns in Connecticut.