Center will diagnose, treat and help to coordinate care for children living with Autism Spectrum Disorders

HARTFORD, Conn. (Dec. 01, 2011) – In response to a skyrocketing need to care for children living with Autism, Hospital for Special Care (HSC) announced plans for an Autism Center last night at an event held at The Hartford Club.  In attendance were Jeff Calhoun and Don Lark, whose families have both been personally touched by Autism.  Opening early 2012, the first phase of the Center will feature a comprehensive outpatient facility followed by second-phase plans for the state’s first and only inpatient facility.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are the fastest growing developmental disabilities.  Each day, more than 65 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism, a neurological disorder characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication, socialization and behavior.  In Connecticut, more than 5,000 children under the age of 21 are identified as on the Autism Spectrum, not including preschool children. 

“The rate of Autism has increased 600 percent nationally over the past two decades, and yet we have observed that there is little coordination between healthcare and other community components such as education, vocation and family support,” said ­­­­­Lynn Ricci, Senior Vice President, Administration, HSC.  

“Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders represent a growing segment of the population in Connecticut and across the nation.  The Autism Center at Hospital for Special Care will benefit the individuals suffering from ASD, the families that care for them and the communities that they call home,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.  Senator Blumenthal is a co-sponsor of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act. 

The HSC Autism Center will provide full diagnostic evaluations that will include the following components:

  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, which includes a family history, individual medical history, observation and developmental rating scales.
  • Psychology, which includes observation both at the Center and potentially at home or school and interviews with family, caregivers and the individual.
  • Behavior Analysis performed by a Certified Applied Behavioral Analyst, including such components of repetitive patterns of behavior, joint attention, eye contact and many other symptom identifications.

Additionally, the HSC Autism Center plans to offer an array of psychological and academic evaluations as well as a wide range of assessment and therapy options in the areas of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech and language therapy.  Behavioral and educational planning also will be provided with the objective of including all caregivers, teachers and others involved in the life of the child to present a consistent and structured environment where the child can thrive. 

The Autism Center has been developed with the input and collaboration of an Advisory Council that includes key advocates, current providers, state government officials as well as academic institutions including Yale School of Medicine, Saint Joseph College, and Southern Connecticut State University.

Once the Autism Center opens, HSC will accept patients who are at least two years of age.  Children may be referred by their family, physician or school.