As of September 2014, the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) will add two new medical centers to its nationwide system, bringing the total number of ATN facilities in the U.S. and Canada to 14. The two new sites include the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of California, Irvine, and the Knights of Columbus Child Development Center at St. Louis’ SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. In addition, Autism Speaks announced that it would spend around $7.5 million over the next three years to support the network’s activities.
Founded in 2005, ATN is the first network of medical centers dedicated to providing complete, multidisciplinary care for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. These unique facilities combine a number of different health professionals and services so that young people with ASD can receive all the care and treatment they need at a single location. At an ATN center, children with ASD can have access to pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, and gastrointestinal specialists, all experienced at working with and treating kids on the autism spectrum. This integrated, whole-person vision of care has made the ATN a very valuable resource for young people with ASD and their families.
In addition to providing care and treatment, ATN member facilities develop and share guidelines for providing excellent medical care and support to families affected by ASD, which is an important aspect of improving the overall level care available outside ATN sites. The ATN has also published a number of tool kits to help families and professionals learn about the particular medical needs of young people on the autism spectrum, and it frequently offers training in ASD care to community health providers. These are both important aids for families and health professionals who may not have firsthand access to an ATN center. Research forms the final piece of the ATN’s mission. All ATN centers conduct research on various topics associated with ASD; for the upcoming three-year funding cycle, researchers will primarily focus on studying health conditions that are commonly linked with ASD.