UVA Children’s Joins National Autism Care Network

Stretching bunny sculpture outside of the Battle building

Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications

UVA Children’s is one of 20 leading autism care centers joining the national Autism Care Network, created by Autism Speaks – a leading autism research and advocacy group – to deliver the best care to families sooner.

The network’s goal is to better serve patients and their families by more quickly applying the latest research and best practices for autism care. UVA Children’s and other network sites will test treatments and gather data from patient visits, using that information to continually improve care.

“I am excited to be joining with other great children’s hospitals and clinics in the U.S. and Canada to work together on behalf of children with autism,” said Dr. Richard Stevenson, the principal investigator for the network at UVA. “The process that we are implementing as a network is state-of-the-art and will push us to improve our care. An essential element of this process is the inclusion of families and individuals with autism on the quality-improvement team.”

Initially, Stevenson said, the network will focus on helping children with autism and their families manage three common symptoms: hyperactivity, irritability and anxiety.

“First and foremost, we will work with other hospitals in the network to create a process that helps our own clinicians focus on these symptoms at each visit,” said Stevenson, who is working closely at UVA with clinical leads Dr. Katheryn Frazier and Dr. Elizabeth White, along with site coordinator Jodi Darring. “At the same time, we will be collecting data about these behaviors as well as treatment outcomes that we will share with the network and contribute to the quality-improvement process and learning how to best care for children with autism and their families.”

Joining the Autism Care Network is the latest step across the University and UVA’s Brain Institute to better understand autism-spectrum disorder and learn the best ways to provide care. For example, UVA School of Medicine autism expert Kevin Pelphrey, the Harrison-Wood Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professor at UVA, recently published new research describing how autism develops differently in boys than in girls.

More information about the network is available at www.autismspeaks.org/autism-care-network

The Autism Care Network is supported by Autism Speaks, the Health Resources Services Administration Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, the J. Donald and Laurelle Lee Family Foundation and the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network.

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