July 30, 2012

The Challenges of Treating Autism

Orange County’s leading autism center has an opportunity for a large injection of cash supplied in part by the Children & Families Commission of Orange County.

But there’s a hitch: the money comes in the form of a matching grant. And though the amount could be for as high as $7 million, it’s available only if a private donor steps forward with an initial outlay.

The funding would be used to expand the For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center in Orange into a regional or even national venue for clinical care, education and research.

In Orange County, which by some estimates has the highest rate of autism statewide, For OC Kids is the rare autism center that accepts public insurance for low-income families, such as Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, said center director Dr. Joseph Donnelly.

Donnelly discussed autism in Orange County with Voice of OC recently, weighing in on whether autism has been over-diagnosed, the failure of a new law to secure autism coverage for poor families, the link between autism and vaccines, and how he hopes to expand his center:

Can you give some background on your center, For OC Kids?

For OC kids Neurodevelopment Center started with a grant from the Commission and began seeing children in 2001. In the first 10 years we provided new evaluations and consultations to over 7000 children. We’ve seen over 21,000 follow-up visits. We’ve provided medical evaluations by pediatric neurologists and developmental-behavioral pediatricians. With some variation according to funding, we’ve had psychologists, speech and language pathologists and family support people. Mainly we do evaluation, diagnosis and try to support families to get the services they need to help children. READ MORE >>

-- Interview by AMY DePAUL

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