LEWISBURG, Pa., April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- No parent is ever fully prepared to learn that a child is anything other than healthy and happy, and a diagnosis of autism can be particularly frightening.
Families everywhere are desperately seeking accurate diagnoses, appropriate care and therapeutic programs for their children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities.
Oftentimes, navigating the field of treatment for autistic children is as frustrating and perplexing as the diagnosis itself.
The Geisinger Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI) has a mission to change all that. As its clinical, research and education headquarters – the Geisinger-Bucknell Autism & Developmental Medicine Center in Lewisburg, Pa. – celebrated its first anniversary, families from across the nation are grateful that the institute provides them with more experts, new knowledge, shorter waitlists, earlier diagnoses, and personalized therapy and plans.
Most importantly, they're relieved to learn their children will live their lives as fully as possible, and that they and other family members are becoming better skilled to care for them.
Just ask Nina Bomba of Mayfield, Pa, the mother of five-year-old Kaleb Miller, who has been treated for a chromosomal abnormality and global developmental delay by Scott Myers, M.D., FAAP, a Geisinger neurodevelopmental pediatrician at the center.
"This is a great place because there are so many families in need of this support and it's so important to have one single institute meet our needs," Bomba said, pointing out that the genomic research component of ADMI is a major advantage to her son's treatment.
"Research allows for specific answers and advice – and that makes such a big difference."
Director and Senior Investigator Christa Martin, Ph.D., sees the research component as the reputation-defining difference of ADMI.
"One thing that we're doing that a lot of autism centers don't is bring two worlds together – the world of behavioral assessments and the world of medical diagnoses," Dr. Martin said. "A lot of the studies that we're involved in, and that we'll continue to be involved in, are related to genetics and genomics and trying to define some of the genetic causes of the developmental disabilities that we see here."
In one recent study, for example, ADMI is collaborating with researchers from Geisinger's Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) top conduct whole-genome sequencing testing on ADMI patients with neurodevelopmental disorders. Lead author Janet Williams, MS, CGC, senior genetic counselor at GMI, says the tests could find causal diagnoses for 25 to 30 percent of the participants. Clinically relevant results will be shared with all participants' families in the hopes of improving their care options. Genetic counselors from ADMI will coach these families and provide insight into treatment protocols.
And they're able to do so without families being put on a wait list for years.
"We've really increased our capacity for larger patient volumes through changing the care model for patients we're seeing," Dr. Martin explained. "Our experts have the support of multi-disciplinary providers."
In only 12 months, ADMI's team has grown from three to 35 and includes specialists in neurodevelopmental pediatrics, genomic medicine, psychology, speech-language pathology, radiology and education.
Those specialists now see between 20 and 30 new patients per week on top of their 40 to 60 existing patients. During the center's initial year, there were close to 3,000 patient visits, including more than 800 new patient evaluations.
And because word is spreading about ADMI's multidisciplinary, research-based approach and reduced appointment wait times, it is fast becoming a destination clinic that already draws patients from all over the globe.
Additional information on ADMI can be found at www.GeisingerADMI.org.
Mike Ferlazzo: 570-214-7410, 515-450-2908 (c),
SOURCE Geisinger Health System