Nationwide Childrens Hospital Joins Autism Treatment Network

February 22, 2011

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been selected to join the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN), connecting Columbus with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Missouri as the nation’s only ATN institutions in the Midwest region.

The ATN is the nation's first network of hospitals and physicians dedicated to developing a model of comprehensive medical care for children and adolescents with autism. The ATN offers families care from doctors highly experienced in helping individuals with autism and providing treatment for associated conditions such as gastrointestinal and sleep disorders.

The Nationwide Children's Hospital Child Development Center is a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-disciplinary care model for children with autism spectrum disorders which provides 1500 screenings and on-going care to more than 1200 families annually. Developmental Pediatrics, Psychology and Neurology staff work closely together within their clinical programs providing interdisciplinary care alongside ancillary services such as speech therapy and other behavioral interventions. Collaborative relationships are also established with autism-oriented specialists in Genetics, Sleep Medicine, Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Psychiatry. The Child Development Center has a comprehensive autism treatment program, the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, to which many children are referred following an interdisciplinary diagnostic assessment. On-going care and follow-up is provided through this program as well as through medical clinics. The Center's Autism Academy and other outreach activities provide parents and community members education about autism and related medical problems. Autism Resource Coordinators assist families with navigating the system of care as well as those services available in the community, including culturally relevant materials for the region's large Somali minority population.

“Being accepted to the Autism Treatment Network is an incredible testament to the work in autism spectrum disorders being done at Nationwide Children’s,” said Eric Butter, PhD, principal investigator for the ATN projects at Nationwide Children’s and a faculty member in The Ohio State University College of Medicine.  “The designation brings together a range of subspecialties including Gastroenterology, Neurology, Genetics and Sleep Medicine. We expect that these interdisciplinary collaborations will help to develop guidelines to improve clinical treatment, but also provide a breeding ground for novel clinical research projects related to autism.”

The ATN also coordinates a patient registry database of clinical data about autism families and patients used to evaluate and track patient care in network facilities. Being part of the ATN provides Nationwide Children’s faculty access to registry data and the opportunity to propose research studies. “But most importantly," noted Karen Ratliff-Schaub, M.D., co-principal investigator, lead autism specialist for the project and a faculty member in The Ohio State University College of Medicine, "the ATN enables us to offer enhanced autism care, which is truly exciting.”

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at