Autism health care transition program bridges gap from adolescence to adulthood

Yang_Image_RTFThe Center for Autism Services and Transition (CAST) provides one of the most critical services for young adults with autism today: the continuation of health care and behavioral services into adulthood. Historically, health care providers offered few if any services for children with autism as they reached adulthood, but The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in partnership with the Department of Internal Medicine and the Nisonger Center, recognized the need to continue services and responded by mobilizing an interdisciplinary team of health care providers to provide services uniquely designed for adults with autism.

CAST, located at OSU Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Hilliard, provides adult care for patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and support for those who are transitioning from pediatric to adult care. Such a program is unique in central Ohio and rare nationwide.

CAST offers access to diagnostic testing, counseling services, therapy, dental care, nutrition and other resources, such as continuing education and vocational development in a structured setting. Because social interactions can be challenging for patients with ASD, CAST staff frequently communicate online with patients.

Individuals with autism are a complex patient population with a wide range of medical, psychological, social and community needs. Many medical experts in the field of autism, such as developmental pediatricians, treat only children and teenagers. Experts in adult medicine, such as internists, may not have the experiences or resources to provide a similar level of care. The unfortunate result is that people with autism often disconnect from ongoing medical care in their late teens and early 20s.

"We want to provide a place where they can come for medical care knowing that we have an entire staff that truly understands their needs," says CAST Director Christopher Hanks, MD.