All Articles in the Category ‘Autism’

How to Help Families Get an Evaluation for Autism Sooner

Families of young children needing an evaluation for autism are currently facing wait times at Seattle Children’s of just over one year. For children ages 5 and older, the wait time for an evaluation is more than three years.

“Seattle Children’s is an excellent place to get an evaluation for autism but it’s not the only place and not the quickest,” says Jennifer Mannheim, ARNP, Autism Center diagnostic lead. “We want families and their primary care providers to know their options to be seen sooner if possible.”


When to refer to Seattle Children’s versus a community provider

For many children, evaluation by a community provider is an excellent option, particularly if their primary care provider (PCP) is moderately or highly confident that they meet criteria for autism. Research shows community providers excel at “ruling in” autism; if they think a child has autism, they are usually correct. Community providers typically are able to complete an autism evaluation of younger children with developmental concerns much sooner than Seattle Children’s.

If a PCP is less confident that their patient meets the criteria for autism, we recommend referring them to a center with a multidisciplinary team such as Seattle Children’s or University of Washington, where providers have expertise in evaluating more complex developmental concerns. This includes children who may have ADHD, multiple mental health diagnoses and/or psychosocial stressors.

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The Autism Center Introduces the New ATLAS Class to Connect Kids to Care More Quickly

The Autism Center has revamped the way children with an autism diagnosis and their families will access services. The first step for almost all families is now to take our new ATLAS Class. ATLAS stands for Accessing Treatment, Learning and Support.  Here is what referring providers need to know:


What is the ATLAS Class?

ATLAS is a 90-minute class designed to teach families the basics of navigating services at the Autism Center and in the community. Objectives include:


  • Identifying their goals for their child and family
  • Learning about the services, classes and groups available at Seattle Children’s and elsewhere in the community
  • Building a roadmap (atlas) for next steps that will best meet their family’s and child’s needs


The ATLAS instructor will provide families with up-to-date wait times for various Autism Center services. This information will help families decide if it makes sense to consider community care options that may be available sooner.


Benefits of ATLAS

Before ATLAS, the Autism Center had capacity to see about 20 new families each month via individual visits; with ATLAS, we can get about 100 new families in the door each month. Families who complete the ATLAS class will be able to self-refer to the Autism Center’s services based on their goals. For example, families can choose to sign up for a Medical Care Consult if they want a visit with an autism provider, but they will know the wait and what they can do while waiting.


Classes and services available at the Autism Center

ATLAS participants will learn about the what the Autism Center does and doesn’t offer and the various education classes and resource and navigation classes.

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News From the Autism Center: New Resources for Families, a Change in Referral Policies, and Getting Patients Evaluated Sooner

New resources from the Autism Center

We invite you to explore the Autism Center’s newly revamped online resources for patients and families. Many new resources have been added this year. Most resources are now available in both English and Spanish.

A new section of Spanish language resources includes an 11-part video series featuring Seattle Children’s subject matter experts, educational ombudspeople and families across Washington state discussing a range of topics in modules that range from 11 to 39 minutes. All videos except the first, “¿Qué es el autismo? (What is autism?),” are new this year.


Referral policy changes

Effective August 21, Seattle Children’s will no longer redirect referrals internally to the Autism Center when they are initially submitted to Speech, Psychiatry, Neurodevelopmental, Neurosciences or other ambulatory clinics. Instead, the referral will be closed and a notification sent to the referring provider to submit a new referral directly to the Autism Center.

This change will help ensure that all referrals to the Autism Center have a longer shelf-life for scheduling purposes (that is unique to the Autism Center) and that patients enter Autism’s scheduling queue as promptly as possible. Learn more about referral guidelines for the Autism Center.

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Under One Roof: Autism Center and Many Outpatient Mental and Behavioral Health Services Are Now Co-Located in Our New Space Across From Magnuson Park


A family arrives for their first appointment at Seattle Children’s Magnuson

Seattle Children’s is pleased to share that on December 12, 2022, Seattle Children’s Magnuson opened as the new showcase home for Seattle Children’s Autism Center and outpatient behavioral health services.

The new 45,000-square-foot clinic was entirely funded by donations as a result of the vision of Seattle Children’s Generation REACH initiative to transform mental health care for all youth and families.

“Seattle Children’s is working to create a future where every young person has access to evidence-based mental and behavioral health services when and where they need them,” said Dr. Carol Rockhill, medical director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinics, Seattle Children’s. “Seattle Children’s Magnuson is a huge step in that direction, providing more treatment rooms and clinical spaces, better technology, gathering spaces for families and children with mental health care needs, autism and more.” Read full post »