Massachusetts General Hospital to add program on autistic adults

23 Aug

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has received a $29 million grant to expand its pediatric autism program to a program that also gives comprehensive care to adults.

From the Boston Globe:

The hospital plans to announce Tuesday that it will receive $29 million, the fourth- largest gift in its history, from Nancy Lurie Marks and her family foundation in Wellesley, in part to add a major adult component to its pediatric autism program. The money will also allow the hospital to expand its services for children with autism, who now wait up to a year for an appointment, conduct extensive research, advocate for patients, and train physicians.

The Nancy Lurie Marks foundation describes itself as:

The primary mission of the Nancy Lurie Marks (NLM) Family Foundation is to help people with autism lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. The Foundation is committed to understanding autism from a scientific perspective, increasing opportunities and services available to the autism community and educating the public about autism.

The foundation was established in 1977.

This is a great step forward. As the story notes, autistics often stay with their pediatricians well into adulthood for lack of better options.

The Boston Globe quoted Peter Bell of Autism Speaks:

Bell said that while he knows of two autism clinics in the United States that treat adults, nothing “comes close to the kind of plan Mass. General is looking at. This is tremendously exciting, and I hope others will follow.’’

I agree. This is tremendously exciting and I hope others will follow.

Autism “is treated as a childhood disorder but it’s lifelong,’’ said Clarence Schutt, director of the Wellesley foundation, which is a leading funder of autism research and whose grant to Mass. General is its largest ever.

7 Responses to “Massachusetts General Hospital to add program on autistic adults”

  1. Clay August 24, 2009 at 05:21 #

    Sorry, totally off-topic, but totally on-topic considering the venue.
    Call the kids, gather ’round the monitor, and play this for them.
    Mama Cass is “Different”.

  2. Laurentius Rex August 24, 2009 at 15:38 #

    I am appalled, this is a big step backwards.

    Autism is not, nor ever should be a medical problem, we are not sick, we do not need those specialist skills which reside in a public hospital (unless we actually need medical care, a position that is not unique to being autistic)

    This is a big cop out. Perhaps the United States (or the State of Massachusets at least) does not understand the notion of social care, which is a human right, to be provided within the context of everyday life, not by Dr’s who know very little about the subject at all.

  3. Sullivan August 24, 2009 at 17:36 #

    Laurentus Rex,

    If this were a case of setting up a DAN type clinic for adults, I would agree with you.

    But, there is a big difference between “a clinic to cure adults of autism” and “a clinic to treat medical conditions in adult autistics”. The former would indicate a DAN like clinic, complete with “treatments” which are often questionable.

    From what I’ve read, this sounds like a clinic to treat medical conditions in adult autistics. I.e. a clinic with supports to help adult autistics obtain healthcare, including training of staff to be prepared to understand what supports may be appropriate and when they may be appropriate.

    There are many comments in the Boston Globe story and elsewhere that would indicate that this is the model they are targeting. For example:

    Foundation staff and autism specialists said many physicians are hesitant or unsure how to talk to and examine adult autistic patients. Their behavior can include rocking and repeating stock phrases – or not speaking at all – and that can lead to serious gaps in care and an over-reliance on psychiatric medications.

  4. susan senator August 25, 2009 at 12:47 #

    I agree with Sullivan, Laurentius Rex; this new clinic of MGH is about helping, and learning how to help. I have been to MGH’s developmental clinics and therapeutic centers many times with Nat. They are, by and large, terrific there, and they try to understand the neurodiversity angle — they have asked me to give talks to their post docs several times. They truly want to improve the medical care of autistics.

  5. researchiscool April 14, 2010 at 19:46 #

    Check out for ways to participate in an autism research study

  6. Pete January 5, 2012 at 20:18 #

    Please check out this great new center just opened in up Peabody, MA designed for adolescents with special needs, with a focus on autism.


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