SPOKANE, Wash. — A new Autism and Neurodevelopmental Clinic in Spokane will help families get more timely autism spectrum disorder (ASD) evaluations for their children.
The wait time for ASD evaluations currently can extend more than 12 months in eastern Washington. Range Community Clinic, in partnership with faculty and researchers at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, is launching the new clinic to reduce that wait time, which is critical considering early intervention dramatically impacts a child’s developmental trajectory.
Located on the WSU Spokane campus, the clinic will be operated by Range Community Clinic, a non-profit academic health network affiliated with WSU, to provide diagnostic services and comprehensive treatment planning. Specialized clinicians will deliver personalized care onsite, as well as through telehealth for children and families in underserved and rural communities.
Designed to complement other autism service providers in eastern Washington, the clinic will accept patients on a referral basis and engage local partners for comprehensive treatment needs. The clinic is expected to reduce diagnosis wait times and ensure patients receive critical treatment sooner to improve long-term outcomes.
“There is a highly skilled and compassionate community of autism and neurodevelopmental specialists across eastern Washington, but the volume of patients in need of diagnosis and treatment far exceeds the capacity of providers,” said Laurie Thompson, PhD, assistant professor in the WSU College of Medicine. “Early diagnosis and treatment for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders can significantly improve the quality of life for patients, so the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Clinic is an important step toward helping reduce those wait times and providing faster access to critical treatment.”
ASD is a neurological and developmental disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to communicate, learn, behave and interact with others. Symptoms typically appear by age two and can vary widely by type and severity, thus a “spectrum” disorder. The Centers for Disease Control recently released the most current prevalence rates, estimating that one in 36 children in the United States is diagnosed with ASD.
The clinic is part of the WSU College of Medicine’s new Autism and Neurodevelopment Program, which integrates research, clinical education and community outreach. Through strong community partnerships, the program advances knowledge and training to build capacity for delivering evidence-based evaluation and care. The clinic is the first multidisciplinary model in eastern Washington that merges research and clinical expertise to address the needs of children and families impacted by ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
“The Autism and Neurodevelopmental Clinic is one piece of a much more comprehensive effort the WSU College of Medicine is making in autism and neurodevelopmental research and care in our community,” said Georgina Lynch, PhD, assistant professor in the WSU College of Medicine. “From research that explores the molecular basis of autism to innovative screening technology being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, we are deeply invested in the improved care and outcomes for patients in our communities and beyond.”
Through coursework and research experiences within the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Program, along with participation in the clinic, this integrated model provides an important training opportunity for students across the health sciences. Students will gain experience in research settings and alongside specialized faculty researchers and clinicians, receiving direct clinical experiences with children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders to prepare them for their future as health care professionals.
For more information, visit medicine.wsu.edu.