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Devereux Pennsylvania Opens New Autism Assessment Center to help families get immediate and accurate diagnoses

Devereux, a leading national nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization, today announced the official opening of its new Autism Assessment Center in Downingtown, Pa. The Center provides families with swift access to autism assessment and diagnostic services along with guidance on accessing autism support resources in the local community. The Center will base its assessments on the ADOS-II (Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule), considered the "gold standard" in autism diagnostic tools.

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that one in 68 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder, a 30 percent increase from one in 88 two years ago. As more children than ever before are being diagnosed, experts agree that early diagnosis is critically important, ensuring appropriate interventions can be identified and implemented. The ADOS-II provides families with the most comprehensive analysis of their children’s particular developmental challenges.  For many families however, accessing the ADOS-II in a timely manner proves to be challenging.  Waiting lists—even for families with primary insurance coverage for ADOS-II testing—can be as long as 18 months.  Families using the Devereux Autism Assessment Center will be seen within four weeks of their appointment requests.

“It’s a critical time for families,” says Amy Kelly, Director of Family and Community Supports for Devereux Pennsylvania, and the mother of a 13-year-old daughter with autism.  “It’s pretty excruciating for families to be looking at losing months, if not a year, of precious time—time that could be used toward accessing necessary interventions for their child,” she said.  For families seeking to pay privately for ADOS-II services, the Devereux Pennsylvania Autism Assessment Center will offer families the opportunity to schedule an appointment within four weeks of their initial call. 

“Devereux has been serving individuals with autism spectrum disorder for more than 60 years, and our new Autism Assessment Center will help more families get the support they need without facing months on a wait list,” said Carol Anne McNellis, Psy.D, and Clinical Director of Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Services. “With Devereux’s growing team of doctorate and masters-level clinicians, combined with our steadfast dedication to each one of the children we serve, families know they are receiving the latest evidence-based strategies along with personal care and attention.”

During the appointment, Devereux clinicians will conduct a series of assessments and provide families who receive a diagnosis with guidance regarding appropriate services and interventions.  The information provided from the ADOS-II testing is a big advantage for families, not only for determining a diagnosis, says Kelly, but can also inform decisions families will make in the selection of programs, preschools or in-home therapies.  

Assessments include a thorough intake evaluation (reviewing relevant history and background) and the use of the ADOS-II. Additionally, a series of comprehensive, individualized assessments may be completed, including psychological, educational and speech evaluations. 

Assessments are completed by masters’-level or doctoral-level clinicians and supervised by a licensed doctoral-level psychologist. For complex cases, the Assessment Center will also employ the use of other professionals for consultation or direct assessment, such as psychiatrists and speech language therapists.

The assessments can take several hours to complete, and with that in mind, the Autism Assessment Center features a warm family room equipped with a stocked kitchenette, a play area, and a computer with Internet access.  A family restroom is also provided.  With same-day preliminary feedback – including a detailed evaluation report with assessment information, diagnosis and recommendations – families can consult with Devereux professionals to discuss the report and receive guidance on the best, local services available to support them and their child moving forward.

For more information or to request an appointment, contact Carol Anne McNellis, Psy.D. at (267) 788-6892, or cmcnelli@devereux.org.


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