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Nationwide Children’s Hospital Joins Autism Treatment Network

Autism Speaks LogoNationwide Children’s Hospital has been selected to join the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN), connecting Columbus with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Missouri as the nation’s only ATN institutions in the Midwest region. The ATN is the nation’s first network of hospitals and physicians dedicated to developing a model of comprehensive medical care for children and adolescents with autism.

Moreover, the ATN offers families care from doctors highly experienced in helping individuals with autism and providing treatment for associated conditions, such as gastrointestinal and sleep disorders.

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Child Development Center is a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-disciplinary care model for children with autism spectrum disorders which provides 1500 screenings and on-going care to more than 1200 families annually. Developmental Pediatrics, Psychology, and Neurology staff work closely together within their clinical programs providing interdisciplinary care alongside ancillary services such as speech therapy and other behavioral interventions. Collaborative relationships are also established with autism-oriented specialists in Genetics, Sleep Medicine, Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Psychiatry.

The Child Development Center has a comprehensive autism treatment program, the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, to which many children are referred following an interdisciplinary diagnostic assessment. On-going care and follow-up is provided through this program as well as through medical clinics. The Center’s Autism Academy and other outreach activities provide parents and community members education about autism and related medical problems. Autism Resource Coordinators assist families with navigating the system of care as well as those services available in the community, including culturally relevant materials for the region’s large Somali minority population.

“Being accepted to the Autism Treatment Network is an incredible testament to the work in autism spectrum disorders being done at Nationwide Children’s,” said Eric Butter, PhD, principal investigator for the ATN projects at Nationwide Children’s and a faculty member in The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “The designation brings together a range of subspecialties including Gastroenterology, Neurology, Genetics and Sleep Medicine. We expect that these interdisciplinary collaborations will help to develop guidelines to improve clinical treatment, but also provide a breeding ground for novel clinical research projects related to autism.”

The ATN also coordinates a patient registry database of clinical data about autism families and patients used to evaluate and track patient care in network facilities. Being part of the ATN provides Nationwide Children’s faculty access to registry data and the opportunity to propose research studies. “But most importantly,” noted Karen Ratliff-Schaub, M.D., co-principal investigator, lead autism specialist for the project and a faculty member in The Ohio State University College of Medicine, “the ATN enables us to offer enhanced autism care, which is truly exciting.”

Material adapted from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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