Please note: The Autism Program at Boston Medical Center is a family resource and support program. If you are looking for an evaluation for autism, or other information about clinical care including making an appointment with one of our clinicians, wait times, or referrals, please contact Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at 617.414.4841.
Direct Patient Care and Support
The diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder presents a uniquely complex set of challenges for families and the clinicians responsible for their care. There is no identified single cause, no known cure, nor any one prescribed treatment that can predict optimal outcomes for all children. Families affected by ASD confront a variety of barriers toward getting needed services for their children. This includes systemic barriers, such as obtaining diagnostic appointments and securing treatment in a resource-limited economy. For families seen at Boston Medical Center, Autism Resource Specialists (ARS’s) are available at that critical time upon diagnosis and beyond, to offer psychosocial support and assistance to families. This includes helping families navigate educational and therapeutic options and facilitate linkages to community based support agencies like the Department of Developmental Services, Social Security, and their local Autism Support Center. Additionally, Autism Resource Specialists work with families by phone and in clinic to provide individualized behavioral consultation and coaching around common challenges. Topics that are often addressed include: managing challenging behaviors, increasing independent living skills and autonomy, developing augmentative communication strategies, utilizing visual schedules and routines, and considering the needs of all members of the family. ARS’s will also assist in reviewing the appropriateness of a child’s educational placement and plan, and advocate (when appropriate) for necessary services.
Our multi-lingual Family Navigator provides extensive support to families in overcoming barriers to obtaining treatment for our higher-risk families. Work of the Family Navigator may include meeting with families during clinic sessions, making home visits, and assisting families in interactions with school system and community agencies. The goals of family navigation are to build working relationships, solve problems, direct patients to resources, manage information, and support patients while they learn to self-navigate systems such as health care, school, entitlements, and community resources.
Transition to Adulthood
The Autism Program’s Transition Clinic provides education, assistance, and support to teenaged patients seen in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (and their families) who are transitioning to adulthood. Our Transition Navigator conducts phone consultations with individuals/families, holds clinic hours to discuss transition goals and action steps, and can go into the community as needed to support adolescents and families through appointments. Support is individualized based on the needs of the adolescent and family, but common areas of discussion are school services, independence and life skills, guardianship, adult service agencies, government benefits, and employment. The Transition Navigator also develops and maintains a resource library that is available to anyone in the greater BMC community.
The Autism Program at Boston Medical Center routinely offers trainings on topics for both parent and professional audiences. Resource trainings can include:
Transition to Adulthood Planning
Navigating ASD: An Innovative Culturally Diverse Parent Support Model
Safety, Sexuality and Autism
The Parent Leadership in Autism Network (PLAN) is an initiative of the Boston Medical Center Autism Program in partnership with TILL Autism Support Center. PLAN is comprised of a diverse and multilingual group of trained parent leaders who offer peer support to caregivers who have children or adolescents of any age with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Referred matched parents are supported around various issues such as a new diagnosis, community resources, communication strategies, picky eating, school services and more. This program is free and open to anyone in the community regardless of where they receive their medical care.
Teens Engaged as Mentors (TEAM) empowers diverse children and adolescents using a unique mentorship model to facilitate strong leadership, self-confidence, and social skills development. TEAM pairs adolescents with and without ASD to co-mentor a younger child who is receiving special education services. TEAM participants engage in supervised monthly hangouts in the form of community service projects and social events; last year's events included trail cleanup with the Mass Audubon Society, Boston Cares' MLK Day of Service, bowling, and attending a Red Sox game!