NEW ORLEANS — Autism spectrum disorder affects one in every 54 children in the United States, making access to healthcare resources critically important for families of children with this neurodevelopmental disorder. With the opening of its new multi-disciplinary Autism Clinic, the Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development at Ochsner Hospital for Children is expanding access in the Gulf South to specialized behavioral and educational programs designed to assess and treat Autism spectrum disorder.
Housed within the Boh Center (located at 1319 Jefferson Highway and adjacent to Ochsner Health Center for Children) the new multi-disciplinary Autism Clinic is designed to assess children ages two through four years old for suspected Autism spectrum disorder. The multi-disciplinary team, which consists of a medical developmental specialist, a psychologist, a speech pathologist and a social worker, works together to complete a comprehensive evaluation and if a diagnosis is made, develops a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
“We’ve seen firsthand how early intervention and diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder can improve a child’s development. By gathering a team of multi-disciplinary specialists all under one roof, our goal is to streamline the assessment process to help families get the care they need,” said Lee Ann Annotti, PhD, a licensed child psychologist and clinic coordinator for the Autism Assessment Clinic at the Boh Center for Child Development at Ochsner Hospital for Children
Early signs a child may need assessment for suspected Autism spectrum disorder include:
- Language: Delayed language skills or use language in ways that are atypical, such as repeating words or phrases.
- Social Interaction: Reduced or no eye contact and/or a preference to be alone or appears withdrawn, or appears to not understand social cues and boundaries
- Play: Play doesn’t use imagination, may involve only using a toy for its function or using a toy in a restricted or repetitive manner
- Fixations: May stick to rigid routines or sameness and/or have difficulty with transitions
- Motor Activities: May display behaviors that appear odd or purposeless, like flapping hands, pacing in circles, or rocking back and forth
“Taking care of kids and keeping them healthy is what we do best at Ochsner Hospital for Children. We started the Boh Center because we recognized the need to fill a significant gap in healthcare resources for children with special healthcare needs. Now, with the new multi-disciplinary Autism clinic, we are poised to serve more pediatric patients with the most prevalent pediatric developmental disability – here in New Orleans and across the Gulf South,” said William Lennarz, MD, System Chair of Pediatrics, Ochsner Hospital for Children.
Modeled after world-class facilities, including the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, the Boh Center was carefully designed to create a healing, collaborative environment for children and their families. The Boh Center is dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with developmental disorders through comprehensive interdisciplinary team evaluations, integrated treatment protocols, high quality evidence-based patient care, direction of special education services and professional education and research.
In addition to its new multi-disciplinary Autism clinic, the physicians and staff at the Boh Center work collaboratively to treat a variety of conditions including:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Developmental Delays
- Feeding Disorders
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy
- Spina Bifida
The Boh Center was made possible thanks to the generosity of community members and organizations, including Robert and Ann Boh who donated in loving memory of their son, Michael. Since opening in Fall 2018, the Boh Center has provided compassionate and comprehensive care by conducting over 8,000 visits for children and adolescents in addition to hosting specialized professional development workshops and webinars for teachers and special education staff across the region.
Ochsner Hospital for Children has offered exceptional pediatric care for more than 75 years. Ochsner offers the only pediatric heart and liver transplant program in the state, serving over 76,000 children every year with more than 140 physicians specializing in more than 30 pediatric specialties and sub-specialties. Ochsner Hospital for Children’s flagship facility is in New Orleans, with subspecialty clinics across Louisiana and in Mississippi.
For more information about Ochsner Hospital for Children, please visit www.ochsner.org/pediatrics. For more information about The Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development, please visit www.ochsner.org/boh.
About Ochsner Health
Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Ochsner Health is a not-for-profit committed to giving back to the communities it serves through preventative screenings, health and wellness resources and partnerships with innovative organizations that share our vision. Ochsner Health healed more than 900,000 people from across the globe in 2020, providing the latest medical breakthroughs and therapies, including digital medicine for chronic conditions and telehealth specialty services. Ochsner Health is a national leader, named the top hospital in Louisiana and a top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. As Louisiana’s leading healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. Ochsner Health is innovating healthcare by investing in new technologies and research to make world-class care more accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner’s team of more than 32,000 employees and 4,500 providers are working to reinvent the future of health and wellness in the region. To learn more about Ochsner Health, please visit www.ochsner.org.