Finding adequate healthcare for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other behavioral and developmental health needs can be challenging.
Fortunately, we’re taking steps to make the process easier and less stressful for parents and children.
On Jan. 7, University of Minnesota Health is opening Voyager Clinic, a new clinic that will bring together experts in six different areas: ASD care, Fragile X syndrome care, child and adolescent psychology, developmental-behavioral pediatrics, neuropsychology and our Birth to Three Program. The clinic will be located in Suite R103 on the first floor of the 2512 Building at 2512 S. 7th Street, Minneapolis, MN, 55454.
“The groups that make up the Voyager Clinic have always tried to work in conjunction, but they have not been housed together under a single banner,” said Pediatric Neuropsychologist Chris Boys, PhD, LP. “Voyager Clinic will also streamline the entry point for all of these services, making it easier for families to get the assessment and intervention they need. It will allow for more interdisciplinary interaction among our care providers, which ultimately improves patient care.”
Now, families will have a single phone number to call for scheduling, ensuring that they can connect with the right providers with fewer complications. Voyager Clinic will also make referrals much easier, because experts in related fields will be working side-by-side.
Opening Voyager Clinic is one of the ways that University of Minnesota Health is responding to rate of ASD and developmental/behavioral health concerns among children. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking ASD diagnoses, the rate was 1 in 150 children. Today, the national rate is 1 in 59. In Minnesota, that number is 1 in 42, according to research conducted by the Minnesota Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (MN-ADDM). University of Minnesota Health Psychologist Amy Esler, PhD, LP, who specializes in ASD care, was a co-principal investigator on the study.
“The rate of autism is rising, and our clinic is well prepared to meet the needs of this growing population with high-quality diagnostic and intervention services,” said Esler.
Clinic care providers are conducting research to better meet the needs of people with ASD, spanning all ages and all positions on the spectrum. The Voyager Clinic team will collaborate with colleagues at the Institute on Community Integration to develop and deploy a “telehealth” intervention model to improve access to early intervention for young children showing risk signs for ASD.
Because care coordination is a significant need for families, Voyager Clinic can also help patients and families find support and connect with available state and local resources—some of which may have complex and time-consuming application processes.
“We leverage whatever resources we can for these children and their families,” Esler said.