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Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network Announces New Funding & Centers

New strategic plan emphasizes research and community outreach at 14 centers across North America; includes two new centers
August 18, 2014


In the newest round of funding for its Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks has selected 14 sites across U.S. and Canada. The selections include two new centers that will join the network in September 2014. (Full list below.)

Over the following three years, Autism Speaks will invest close to $7.5 million to support the network’s mission of delivering the highest standard of whole-person care for children and adolescents with autism.

“The high quality of our member centers has established our network as a leader in the development of medical best practices in autism while building a solid platform for on-going medical research,” says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Robert Ring. “The changes to the ATN being announced here represent key decisions that will best position the network to take on an enhanced mission focus and will help usher in a new strategic chapter for one of the crown jewels of the Autism Speaks science portfolio.”

Autism Speaks President Liz Feld adds, “I’d like to welcome our new centers in Saint Louis and Irvine, California. We look forward to working with our partners, old and new, to meet the often-complex medical and behavioral needs of our families. This work is so crucial given the stunning growth in autism’s prevalence and the unacceptably long waits for treatment that our families face in so many parts of the country.”

Founded in 2005, the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) is the first system of medical centers dedicated to improving the healthcare of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Its mission is to provide integrated whole-person care that partners families with a coordinated team of specialists.

A commitment to research and treatment
A primary focus of the new cycle will be research on the health conditions commonly associated with autism, says Paul Wang, Autism Speaks senior vice president for medical research. “The network’s updated strategic plan will focus in even greater depth on the relationship between medical issues and long-term outcomes in ASD,” he says.

“Voluntary family participation is crucial to the ATN’s medical research,” adds Donna Murray, Autism Speaks senior director for medical research and head of the ATN. “Currently, nearly 7,000 children are included in the network’s clinical registry. This has allowed researchers to study their medical and behavioral needs and resulted in more than 50 published studies.”

“We will also be placing a new emphasis on increasing access to comprehensive autism care by training more community health providers,” says ATN medical director Dan Coury. “At the same time, we’re redoubling our efforts to support and empower families in navigating their child’s healthcare system.”

In joining the network, each member center formally commits to furthering all these goals in their communities.

Treatment guidelines and family tool kits
Clinicians within the ATN will continue developing and sharing guidelines for the highest standard of medical care and support for families affected by autism. The network’s specialists rank among the world’s leaders in addressing autism’s medical and behavioral issues. In 2012, Pediatrics published a special supplement on autism-related medical issues that featured treatment guidelines and research by ATN specialists.

In addition, the ATN has published 18 widely used tool kits on the medical needs of individuals with autism and geared for both families and professionals. These can be downloaded from the Autism Speaks website free of charge, here. These efforts are enhanced by federal funding for the ATN’s role as the nation’s Autism Intervention Research Network for Physical Health.

As of September 2014, the new roster of ATN centers will include:

* University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

* Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

* Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

* Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock

* Vanderbilt University, Nashville

* University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

* The Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

* Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

* Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus

* Knights of Columbus Child Development Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center and Saint Louis University School of Medicine

* The Center for Autism Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of California, Irvine

* The University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism, Columbia

* Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Surrey Place Centre and The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario

* Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital – University of Alberta, Edmonton

Stay tuned for our newest blog series: "Your ATN@Work." Look for it on the Autism Speaks RESEARCH PAGE.