Clinic fills critical gap in autism care
The interdisciplinary ACAR Clinic provides continuity of care to patients of all ages
The Azrieli Centre for Autism Research (ACAR) Clinic of the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital (Neuro) fills an urgent need for understanding and caring for autistic individuals at any stage of life, from birth into adulthood.
Following an integrated clinical-research model, the ACAR Clinic offers expert diagnosis and personalized services through a network of specialized clinicians who practice in clinical psychology, neuropsychology, neurology, and psychiatry.
Transforming autism care – from childhood into adulthood
“Specialized services for autistic youth and adults are rare to non-existent in Quebec – the ACAR Clinic is helping to bridge this critical gap,” says Julie Scorah, Associate Director of the ACAR Clinic.
“We are partners with our patients on their life journeys – helping to navigate what is often a very difficult system.”
The ACAR Clinic serves youth (16+) and adults at its main location at The Neuro. It also offers specialized care for individuals who have co-occurring neurodevelopmental, behavioural or neurological conditions.
The satellite site at the Montreal Children’s Hospital serves pediatric patients in partnership with the Brain, Development and Behaviour (BDB) program.
Together, this network ensures consistent and reliable access to care by:
- decreasing the need for multiple consultations before receiving diagnoses
- improving patient health and well-being by addressing co-occurring conditions and potentially finding causes that have broader implications
- empowering autistic individuals and families to take part in and access research that directly benefits them
- facilitating seamless transitions from pediatric to adult care systems.
“Our model is collaborative,” adds Mandy Steiman, Clinical Psychologist at the ACAR Clinic.
“We see our patients and their families – including other people in their close support networks – as part of our team. Improving their lives drives all aspects of our work, and we aim to do everything in our power to provide the highest quality personalized care, services and supports to those seeking our help.”
Integrating research and care to improve lives
The ACAR Clinic follows an integrated clinical researchmodel. This means that clinical data helps to advance research, and research informs patient care in a tailored way.
Patients are enrolled in research studies through the Clinic’s network of clinician-researchers using an “opt out” approach (that is, participation in research with the option to drop out at any time without interruption to clinical services).
“Our patients take part in research while simultaneously receiving clinical care that will benefit them, their families and the broader community,” explains Scorah, who is also a neuropsychologist at the ACAR Clinic.
“They can learn more about themselves, get further evaluations, and receive extra support and services through this model.”
In addition, research data capture is harmonized with clinical activities ensuring that procedures are only done once (for example, psychometric assessments, blood draws, and imaging).
Patients may also access availabletrials of behavioural interventions not offered anywhere else in the healthcare system.
“Our goal is to really get to know our patients and their families, so that they can participate in and benefit from a research experience in a comfortable and inviting atmosphere with familiar faces.”
For more information about the ACAR Clinic, visit The Neuro’s website.