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Program Highlights

Making Autism Care Ever Better

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder, usually diagnosed in childhood, that affects social communication, behavior, and health. Although specific symptoms and level of severity vary from child to child, a diagnosis of ASD has a marked impact on the daily life of the affected child, their family, and all those who surround and support him or her, Fortunately, Golisano Children’s Hospital is an internationally-recognized leader in the diagnosis, treatment, and investigation of new treatments for ASD.  Our team is one of a network of 17 North American medical centers working as a part of the Autism Speaks - Autism Treatment Network to establish standards of care for diagnosis and treatment of children with ASD. We provide leadership education to fellows in multiple disciplines who will be the next generation of researchers and clinicians.  And, in addition, Golisano Children’s Hospital has one of the largest research programs in the U.S., investigating causes and effective treatments for children with ASD. We need your help to provide more clinical care, innovative therapies, research, and support for children and youth with ASD, and their families.


Golisano Children’s Hospital is known for its partnership with the community—our schools, families, and medical professionals—a crucial piece of assuring the best treatments for children with ASD in our area.  We regularly adjust our services and create new programs based upon family feedback on their needs.  

• Diagnostic Evaluation: Our program currently evaluates over 1000 children per year suspected of having ASD or another developmental disability.  We utilize nationally-recognized standards of care for diagnosis to assure quality.  We provide families with support, resources, and recommendations of what to do next. 

• Specialized medical care: Children with ASD have a range of complex health problems as a part of their disability.  These range from seizures to ADHD, sleep disorders to toe-walking.  We provide state of the art medical care and monitoring for conditions associated with ASD.  By supporting a child’s physical and behavioral health, we help them to maximize their success at home, in school, and din the community.  

• Family Navigation, information & referral, social support: Our team of family supports includes a parent of a child with ASD, social workers, Registered Nurses, and Information & Referral specialists.  With this team in place, we are able to help families understand systems of care, connect with community resources & supports, and advocate effectively for their child.  We rely heavily on philanthropy to support these vital family supports.

• Feeding Disorders Evaluation & Treatment: Many children with ASD have very limited diets, refuse certain foods, or have disruptive behavior at meals.  Families told us this was a big problem and that they need help.  We developed a program where our feeding psychologist, dietician, and speech therapist work together to change feeding behavior, teach oral-motor skills, while at the same time, designing a nutritionally sound meal program based on what the child will eat.

• Behavior Interventions for Families: Parenting a child with ASD is very different from parenting a typically developing child.  Parents tell us that the “usual” parenting strategies just don’t work.  Therefore, we used a research-based treatment model to develop a program for parents.  Our therapists work with individual parents during weekly sessions to identify ways to work effectively with their child with ASD.  Parents learn about behavior, how to teach new skills, and how to prevent reduce the frequency of undesirable behavior.

• Behavior Treatment Program:  For children with significant behavior challenges, we work with parent and child together.  We identify the triggers for behavior problems, and ways to reduce their frequency.  We work on teaching new skills that can replace problem behavior.

The demand for all of these programs continues to grow, month to month and year to year.  We need support to hire the clinicians needed to meet demand from children and families in our region for diagnosis & treatment.  We also need support to be able to continue to develop new programs as families come to us with need. 


Autism teaching situationEach year, early-career pediatricians, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and nurse practitioners come to the Department of Pediatrics to gain additional training and significant work experience as post-doctoral fellows. They do so because of our cutting-edge clinical mentoring in 14 subspecialties and general pediatrics, our research experiences that span the entire medical center and community, and our passion for training and mentoring that fuels our legacy of excellence and advocacy in health care, research, and community service. Our ASD fellows work across disciplines to bring together the best minds on collaborative projects, cementing linkages between basic and clinical scientists—studying the genetics and neurodevelopmental and behavioral features of ASD— as well as psychologists, nutritionists, and numerous others throughout the University. Our goal, with your support, is to be the leader in training the next generation of clinicians and scientists who help people with ASD.


autism research roomJust as state-of-the-art autism care requires coordination across a number of specialty areas, true innovation in autism research demands collaboration; the type of nationally and internationally-recognized collaboration found across our campuses at the University of Rochester in clinical, translational, and basic ASD research. We are studying how the brains of people with ASD process language and sensory information. We are actively investigating the relationship between environmental exposures and autism. And we’re taking advantage of the University’s strengths in clinical trials, data science, neurology, neurotoxicology, genetics, and genomics to accelerate the translation of discoveries into new treatments and the improved, earlier identification of ASD.

We have a number of studies underway to help parents support their children’s language development, address feeding, wandering and other behavior problems, and a study to help parents manage the stress of parenting a child with ASD.

In the largest-ever clinical trial for autism, a multi-site study showed that a parent-training program can help reduce Tantrums, aggression, self-injury and other serious behavior problems. Dr. Tristram Smith and other researchers in Rochester are now in the midst of additional studies that explore other ways that parent training can benefit children with autism spectrum disorder.

Together, with your support, we can optimize the future health and well-being of, and opportunities for, individuals with ASD and their families.


To learn more about how you can support the comprehensive care for children with autism and the Levine Autism Clinic, please contact Scott Rasmussen at (585) 273-5932 or