Autism Resource Center Helps Rochester, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier

New Center Makes Sense of Services, Information Available to Those Affected by Autism

June 24, 2008

Parents, educators, health providers and community leaders who interact closely with children with autism now have convenient access to a trusted core of information regarding symptoms, the latest research, possible therapies and the reputable community resources that provide them, thanks to a new regional center housed at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Virtually a “411” access point for “all things autism,” the new Rochester Regional Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (RRCASD) is funded by the New York Department of Education and coordinated by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities Regional Center located at S.U.N.Y. Albany. One of seven University-based centers that now carve up most of the state, it eliminates a confusing maze of services by acting as a centralized hub and pooling information on the best resources in the 11-county western New York region.

“Prior to this, a family facing an autism diagnosis inevitably began a scavenger hunt for the resources and answers they needed,” said Caroline I. Magyar, Ph.D., an associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester who directs the new center. “Schools and community groups also craved support and education, but had trouble finding it. Now, we’re fortunate to act as an information clearinghouse; these families and groups tap our expertise, and we help outfit them with information on the best services and tools.”

By tracking community concerns, questions and needs, Magyar said the new center will also be able to identify gaps between regional needs and resources; it will then work with other programs and agencies to fill them.

“With news that autism affects one in 150 individuals, it’s increasingly important that all folks in the community – especially affected families and educational and health care providers – have convenient, reliable information on the many existing support services,” Magyar said.

Integrated with the University of Rochester’s Department of Pediatrics and the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, the new center offers:

• a telephone information and referral line, (585) 273-1613, to assist in navigating community resources and finding useful information. Voicemail and e-mail capability (RRCASD@urmc.rochester.edu) make this functional around the clock;
• a semi-annual newsletter reviewing the state of research, new literature and available community resources;
• the opportunity to schedule brief traveling educational talks that introduce a basic working knowledge of autism spectrum disorders (such talks are available to schools, parent groups, developmental agencies, workplaces and other groups who interact with children and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder);
• in-depth annual conferences (separate conferences for the Greater Rochester, western Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions) that discuss topics of local import, beginning next spring.

Also in the works, the center is developing a 30-minute CD helpful for self-guided study or in-service training. The CD includes video features, a discussion guide and a self-quiz, and is anticipated to be completed by fall 2009 (at which point, the information will be available for free download on the center’s Web site).

For more information about the new center, to request a talk, to be added to the newsletter mailing list or to be steered toward useful community resources, call (585) 273-1613, visit www.urmc.edu/childrens-hospital/autism, or send an e-mail to RRCASD@urmc.rochester.edu.
Families facing an autism diagnosis can become overwhelmed while searching for the resources and answers they need.

For Media Inquiries:
Becky Jones
(585)275-8490
Email Becky Jones