Press Release (ePRNews.com) - PITTSBURGH - Feb 16, 2017 - It’s more common than Down syndrome, diabetes or even childhood cancer. It is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, increasing ten-fold in the past 40 years.
What is this disorder affecting so many more children than ever before? It’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other behavioral health issues.
That’s why Wesley Spectrum, a private, nonprofit service agency that provides a wide array of integrated education, behavioral health, autism and family support services to meet the complex needs of at-risk children and families, has created WS CARES in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania to provide much-needed services for those that have ASD and other behavioral health issues in Western Pennsylvania.
CARES will provide connections, assessments, resources, education and support to each client served.
Along with its multi-disciplinary team of highly trained, experienced professionals, WS CARES has been developed in consultation with Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for training that provides the most comprehensive assessment and diagnostic program.
Services available at the new program include medical, developmental and psychological assessment and evaluation including diagnostic testing. A CARES Navigator provides a thorough personalized step-by-step process of connections, resources, and education to ensure the myriad needs of the individual and family are met with precision and care.
“CARES is committed to providing answers and helping children and families connect with services needed in shorter timeframes to increase overall success,” said Doug Muetzel, Chief Executive Officer of Wesley Spectrum.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is prevalent in 1 in 68 American children. Despite this, many of the Pittsburgh region’s ASD and behavioral health treatment providers are beyond their customer capacity and many families are forced to postpone initial evaluation or treatment for as much as eight months. WS CARES will help solve the capacity challenge by serving as a trusted resource for individuals and families seeking ASD and other developmental disability evaluation, diagnostic testing and information.
“Over the past two decades, we’ve witnessed a steady increase in autism spectrum and other behavioral health diagnoses,” said Muetzel. “While awareness and services for children with autism and other behavioral concerns have increased exponentially, there remains a dramatic need for more comprehensive assessments and resources in the Pittsburgh area, specifically in the suburban areas.”
Muetzel said that right now there are so many children in need of a screening for autism it can currently take up to six months or more to get a diagnosis anywhere in the area. He said that the goal of the WS CARES program will be to secure a complete evaluation within three visits and provide answers for parents of children age 2 to 21 who have concerns about autism, as well as provide a centralized location for them to access resources, make connections, and receive support.
“The new CARES program will meet a growing need for timely and comprehensive assessments and diagnosis for autism and other developmental issues while incorporating the entire family into the treatment,” said Muetzel. “Our vision is not restricted by the relative size of our region, rather we seek to be a leader in providing unparalleled personalized care for children and families affected by these issues as we work alongside our outstanding community partners.”
Muetzel said the services are intended to treat the entire lifespan of autism or behavioral health issues.
“We know the significance of early diagnosis, but also take a 360-degree approach to treatment to achieve the greatest level of independence possible over the course of an individual’s life,” he said. “We not only expect to offer the gold standard for providing diagnostic information but to assist in determining the best recommendations suited for a particular individual and their family.”
More information about the WS CARES program is available at https://www.wesleyspectrum.org/cares-program/.
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