Women & Children's Hospital, The Children's Guild Foundation and UB Create the Autism Spectrum Disorder Center of Excellence

By Lois Baker

Release Date: October 2, 2009 This content is archived.


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Pediatric neurologist Michelle Hartley-McAndrew is among the specialists who will be working with autistic children and their families as part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Center fo Excellence.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo and The Children's Guild Foundation, along with the University at Buffalo, have announced the formation of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Center of Excellence, funded by a $585,000 grant from the foundation.

The center is among the first in the U.S. and the first in Western New York to diagnose and treat children with this complex and increasingly prevalent disorder in a family-focused, multi-disciplinary approach under one roof. The center began taking its first appointments yesterday.

"The Children's Guild Foundation has provided longstanding significant support for the children and families at Women and Children's Hospital," said Cheryl Klass, president of Women & Children's Hospital, in announcing the center's formation.

"This grant allows us to advance pediatric specialists in a coordinated team approach to address the needs of children with autism."

Michelle Hartley-McAndrew, MD, neurologist and clinical assistant professor of pediatric neurology in the University of Buffalo's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a member of the team said: "Our center is unique, because at the initial visit, each child will be seen by a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist and child psychologist, and then discussed by the team about the need for further testing, services and care."

In total, the Autism Spectrum Disorder Center of Excellence is projected to be a $1.08 million program that also includes funding from Women & Children's Hospital in addition to the gift from the foundation. UB will have an integral role in the center's research, communication and educational initiatives.

"For more than five decades, The Children's Guild Foundation has supported the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo in its work with special needs children and their families," said James A. Bourne, chair of the foundation's board of directors.

"In that time, we have contributed almost $17 million toward services and programs designed to effect positive impact in the lives of these children. In addition, our funding is focused so that all children with challenges may achieve their highest potential," he added.

It is estimated that one in 150 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of related brain-based syndromes that affect a child's behavior, social and communication skills. This condition affects children of every racial, ethnic and socioeconomic background, but each child on the spectrum has specific symptoms, strengths and challenges. The number and severity of symptoms can vary greatly and children may need support from different medical disciplines.

Most children have signs of an ASD before they are three years old, studies have shown, and boys are four times more likely than girls to be affected.

The comprehensive program provided by the center will improve access and turnaround time to diagnosis, provide family-centered coordination of care, promote collaboration within research, service and community groups and launch a targeted communication, information and education campaign.

Women & Children's Hospital is the only provider of medically based diagnostic services for autism in Western New York. In addition to the professionals and staff in the departments directly involved in the multidisciplinary center, Women & Children's Hospital offers a comprehensive range of pediatric specialty services to offer support and testing in areas such as occupational and speech therapy, nutrition and feeding, sleep disorders, genetic testing and imaging.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

For more information, visit: http://www.wchob.org/autism or call (716) 878-7600.