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UPMC On Topic TranscriptAutism Spectrum Disorder

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Martin Lubetsky, MD

Autism Spectrum Disorder is commonly called autism, and it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes impairment in a child’s development in three major areas, social interaction and relationships, language and communication, behavior, and something called ritualistic patterns.

Autism now occurs in at least one in 110 children and it affects boys more commonly than girls by about four to one. It can occur in any ethnic, racial, and economic group and it impacts children from as young as preschool throughout adult life.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Once a child is assessed and the diagnosis is clarified we develop a treatment plan that’s specific for different ages. Every child with autism is different and so we need to create something that’s unique for that child. We work with other agencies and providers and families, so we develop a multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration in order to do that. So we work with the child’s pediatrician, the school and other agencies providing services to the child and family.

We know that the earlier the intervention the better the outcome for a child with autism.

Comprehensive Assessment

The reason to seek services from the Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders is that we are one of the most comprehensive centers in the nation. We provide diagnostic assessment service from preschool age through adolescence and adulthood. For young children we have a national site for the autism treatment network which provides evaluation for behavioral and medical issues in autism.

We also are the site for the Western Pennsylvania Regional Autism Center through the state of Pennsylvania and we provide autism services, education, research and training. We also have a specialized inpatient unit, one of the few in the nation that provides assessment and treatment for acute behavior problems in children and adults with autism and developmental disorders. 

Ongoing Research

Research is very important to the future understanding of autism assessment and treatment, and our center is committed to pursuing further research. There are many collaborative projects and research across Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers are exploring the causes of autism in the brain, genetics, cognition, and social aspects of autism. We are also exploring evidence-based treatments for young children through adults.

Continued Support

Our Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders at Western Psychiatric is committed to working with families from early diagnosis in the preschool years throughout childhood, adolescence and the adult life. We provide support to families and provide services for as long as help is needed.