Westchester will soon be a beacon of blue light for individuals and families in the region affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at in White Plains will open in 2013 to treat and research ASD and other developmental brain disorders under one local facility.
“When the CDC tells you there is an epidemic of autism in the country, you know you’re dealing with something of enormous proportion,” said New York-Presbyterian Hospital CEO Dr. Steven Corwin, at the center’s groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new data that upped the number for children with autism from one in 110, to one out of 88. According to The Huffington Post, the new statistics come from a series of studies that steadily raised the rate of autism, and that the new estimate shows that autism is almost twice as common as estimates from five years ago.
“Is it that we’re diagnosing it more carefully? Is it something out there causing it?” asked U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey, at the event. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. Between increasing research and educational opportunities—we can make a difference. I am so thrilled to be on the committee with my colleagues to continue to fight for more money [for autism services and research].”
According to the CDC, developmental disabilities affect one in six U.S. children—including speech impairments, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy and autism.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital will partner with the New York Center for Autism, Weill Cornell Medical College and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons to provide thorough care in a cutting edge facility for patients of all ages, including: evaluations, diagnosis, therapeutic and gap services to help families and patients heal and plan for the future.
“Housing, employment, recreation and community integration programs will ensure this center addresses the critical issues at hand of how we treat and service individuals with autism to lead independent and joyful lives,” said Laura Slatkin, who co-founded the New York Center for Autism with her husband Harry Slatkin.
The center will also research and develop the best practices in ASD service, in addition to researching causes and treatments to advance ASD care.
Dr. Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, described the center as offering “high quality clinical service in an atmosphere where we are conducting research to find out what’s happening in the future—not just to find out what happened, but what to do next.”
The new facility—made possible by a collaboration between the hospital, medical colleges, New York Center for Autism and donors—is currently under construction and will be completed in late 2012, before it opens the following year on the hospital’s 214-acre Westchester campus.
“Anyone who has any connection to the community knows multiple families who are touched by the disease,” said Mayor Tom Roach. “The idea that our city is going to have a state-of-the-art cutting edge facility to help people who have this disease is a wonderful thing.”