Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network Expands to 17 Sites in North America

Edmonton joins Toronto in expansion of network committed to improving health and healthcare of children and youth with autism.

TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - Autism Speaks and Autism Speaks Canada who together form North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, is pleased to announce the expansion of its Autism Treatment Network to include 17 leading children's hospitals and academic medical centers in the Canada and the U.S.

The Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) is committed to improving the health and healthcare for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through evidence-based research and practice. The ATN's long range mission is to build capacity in the community to provide all children and adolescents with ASD access to a high quality, comprehensive and multidisciplinary care model within their local communities. The ATN brings together the expertise of a multidisciplinary group of over 200 practicing physicians, nurses, specialized therapists, behavioral specialists, and clinical researchers to develop and disseminate novel treatments, practice guidelines and clinical tools for the wider community.

"The addition of a second ATN site in Canada speaks to the high level of clinical and research expertise that we have in this country. We are particularly grateful for the support of our donors, the passion of our families, and our strong corporate and community partnerships. It is their collective commitment to our mission, their participation at our Walks and other fund raising events, their funding partnerships that enable us to support the critical work done at the Canadian ATN sites," noted Suzanne Lanthier, Executive Director of Autism Speaks Canada.

The new Canadian ATN centre site is a partnership of the University of Alberta/Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (GRH) and the Stollery Children's Hospital (SCH). The multidisciplinary Autism Follow-up Clinic (AFC) works collaboratively with regional assessment programs at the GRH and with community partners serving children, youth and their families in Northern and Central Alberta. The AFC has an established working relationship with the SCH specialists in Pediatric Sleep Medicine, Genetics/Metabolics, Neurology, and Gastroenterology. The GRH Autism Follow-up Clinic (AFC) has provided child and family-centered medical follow-up for patients with ASD from the catchment area of Northern and Central Alberta as well as the Northwest Territories (total population over 2.5 million) for the past 15 years.

Edmonton joins the existing Toronto ATN site led by Bloorview Kids Rehab in partnership with SickKids and Surrey Place Centre. A full range of tertiary and quaternary medical subspecialists are easily accessible through the Sick Kids in Toronto. The ATN Child Development teams also work in collaboration with community agencies in the provision of services for children and adults with ASD and their families. The majority of subspecialist care for families enrolled in the ATN occurs at SickKids. Care is provided through subspecialty clinics within the hospital including, Neurology, Sleep, Metabolics, Genetics, Gynecology, Gastroenterology, Immunology, Endocrinology, and Pain.

"The expansion of the ATN to include 17 of the leading clinical care sites in the U.S. and Canada reflects a substantial commitment by the healthcare community to recognizing the importance of understanding the medical challenges that individuals with ASD face throughout their lives," said Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D., VP of Clinical Programs for Autism Speaks (U.S.). "The dedication and commitment of these institutions to addressing the medical needs of our community is one of the network's greatest assets".

The ATN Care Model has at its heart a team of specialists with substantial experience in the diagnostic and medical evaluation and treatment of individuals with ASD, who partner with families and community health providers to provide care that is comprehensive and appropriate for the family's individual needs. This multi-disciplinary team approach includes specialists in developmental and behavioral pediatrics, neurology, child psychiatry, psychology, gastroenterology (GI), genetics, metabolics, and sleep disorders, as well as nurses, other therapists, social workers and care managers, supporting care management and coordination.

The ATN is also dedicated to continuous improvement of care with a focus on streamlining care delivery, and the development of practice parameters/guidelines, decision aids, and other informational tools that can be made available to all families and clinicians, even those not located close to an ATN site. A new parent advisory board with representation from parents within and outside the ATN will provide guidance to the network on network activities and strategic directions.

With a well-established research infrastructure across multiple institutions and a large patient registry of 3200 individuals receiving care at the ATN sites, this multidisciplinary network of experts is uniquely positioned to also serve as a platform for cutting edge research to facilitate the discovery of novel interventions and effective therapeutics.

The ATN sites currently provide services to approximately 22,000 families with ASD each year, and all have taken critical steps to broaden the services available to all children in these centers as part of their ongoing commitment to the ATN model of care. "The expansion to 17 sites marks a major development in the ATN efforts to improve care for families with children with ASD and to bring even more clinicians and scientists into the efforts to do the research that will answer the questions that parents bring to doctors about their children with ASD," said James Perrin, M.D., pediatrician and Director of the ATN Clinical Coordinating Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. "The addition of a second site in Canada expands our reach in that country."

To learn out more about the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network and to see a complete list of all sites, please visit www.autismspeaks.org/atn.

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in North America, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States has called autism a national public health concern whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks & Autism Speaks Canada
Autism Speaks together with Autism Speaks Canada forms North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to global research initiatives through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.  Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

SOURCE Autism Speaks Canada

For further information:

Suzanne Lanthier
Executive Director
Autism Speaks Canada
slanthier@autismspeaks.org
416-388-3139 - cell


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