SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has the highest rate of autism in the U.S., and there’s a unique place at the University of Utah that’s designed to help children, teens and adults with autism spectrum disorders.
The U of U unveiled their new clinic earlier this month, and the facility is aimed at meeting the growing demand for autism-related services in Utah.
Psychologist Julia Connelly is the clinical director of the facility, and she said they are there to help.
“People come, they want to find answers,” Connelly said.
Connelly once assessed artist Michael Ryanandolsek for autism, and he was one of the artists behind the paintings on the walls at the clinic.
“I just asked what they wanted for each piece, we would work on one room at a time,” he said. “It was so nice with this project because they gave me so much liberty.”
Doctor Deborah Bilder is the medical director of the clinic, and she said they offer specialized service.
“I think just the fact that we're just a clinic that serves individuals and outpatients with autisim spectrum disorder is definitely unique to this area,” Bilder said. “One of our particular strengths is to be able to use gold standard instruments... as needed for autism diagnostics, for children through adulthood.”
The clinic offers everything from social skills training to family support programs, and it provides diagnostics for every age group.
“I think outpatient therapy is another new addition that we're providing that is difficult to find out in the community, which is a therapist who can see adults or children with autism spectrum disorders to help them with life stressors or other issues that emerge," Bilder said.
Connelly said in a state like Utah, autism resources are important.
“I do think that we're a state that's very good at identifying autism,” she said. “We have some of our school districts that are very good at supporting people with autism, but outpatient services like, 'Where do I go as a parent to get help with these behavior problems?', I think that's been difficult to find a specific place to go to to find those answers: That's a niche or hole we're trying to fill in the community.”
For more information about the new autism clinic, click here.