Autism Clinic at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital To Benefit Children
and Their Families
M.D., associate professor of pediatrics with the Emory University School
of Medicine and developmental pediatrician at Grady Health System's
Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital, in collaboration with the leadership
of Grady Memorial Hospital and its rehabilitation department, has developed
an autism clinic at Hughes Spalding for Atlanta youngsters who have
features of autism. The clinic will serve six to 12 toddlers, preschoolers
and elementary-age children per month.
The clinic is scheduled to
officially open at Hughes Spalding in November, and will employ various
specialists, including a speech and occupational therapist, nutritionist,
nurse coordinator, behavior and therapeutic recreation specialists,
social worker, developmental pediatrician, audiologist, and a psychologist.
Dr. Rubin said the autism
clinic at Hughes Spalding will serve as a complement to the Emory Autism
Resource Center (EARC), which offers the most experienced professional
team of autism experts in Georgia. The EARC is the only Georgia resource
that provides a comprehensive continuum of services specifically designed
to meet the needs of children and adults with autism and their families.
The Hughes Spalding autism clinic will specifically address the children
in inner-city Atlanta, where autism services have been sparse. Dr. Rubin
said he expects the clinic to see up to 100 children in the first year.
"We respect and admire the
Emory Autism Resource Center because it has pioneered research and services
in the area of autism in Atlanta and all of Georgia," Dr. Rubin said.
"As a developmental pediatrician, I have worked and continue to work
closely with experts in the Emory autism center, and this program is
meant to complement what they do."
The Hughes Spalding clinic
will educate parents about the associated medical conditions of autism,
the needs of their children, and provide resources and education on
becoming advocates for children who have autism. There are also plans
to work with the local school system.
"With this specialized, interdisciplinary
autism clinic, we want to develop a place where the children of Atlanta
can come if there is any question of communication, socialization and
any aberrant behavior that are associated with the diagnosis of autism,"
Dr. Rubin said. "We will provide children with speech and occupational
therapy, family support, and behavior management that will enable them
to make good progress and become integrated into the mainstream of society."
Autism is one of the most
common developmental disabilities in the United States, affecting more
than 500,000 Americans. By definition, autism is a complex brain order
dysfunction that typically appears during the first three years of life.
Children with autism have problems with social interaction, communication,
imagination and behavior Ð problems that can persist well into adulthood.
The condition makes it difficult for children and adults to communicate
with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, they may
have aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior related to their inability
Dr. Rubin has also been successful
in developing a Cerebral Palsy program at Hughes Spalding. The clinic
opened in 1998, and has serviced nearly 300 new patients and their families.
Held twice each month, the clinic is an offshoot of the Children's Medical
Services, which closed its doors on July 1, 1999. The Cerebral Palsy
clinic now sees between 20 and 30 children in an interdisciplinary setting
each month and serves children and their families across the state of
Georgia and surrounding region.
The success of the Cerebral
Palsy program has resulted in the establishment of two other interdisciplinary
programs that Dr. Rubin has helped develop with colleagues at Morehouse
School of Medicine. The STARS program in collaboration with Dr. Beatrice
Gee serves children with sickle cell disease who have had strokes. The
Prader-Willi Program with Dr. Randy Alexander serves children with the
These programs help establish
Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital in a leadership role in serving
children with developmental disabilities and other chronic conditions
in an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, coordinated manner, that is
family-center and community-based, and provides education to the community
and training for professionals.
For more information on the
Hughes Spalding autism clinic, call Regina Johnson, nurse coordinator,
at (404) 616-2172.
*This revised release,
posted September 20, 2002, contains important supplementary information
about the Emory Autism Resource Center.