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***Syracuse, NY: Autism "soaring": 6,752 in 2000 to 37,435 in 2016; 2 yr wait for diagnosis

April 22, 2019, Syracuse Post Standard: Syracuse autism clinic in limbo; kids waiting nearly 2 years for diagnoses A state-funded Syracuse clinic that diagnoses autism and other developmental disabilities in children has stopped taking new patients, leaving parents waiting nearly two years to get their kids evaluated elsewhere. The Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center stopped taking new referrals in February because it has to vacate its space at 215 Bassett St. by Sept. 30 when its lease expires. The center, which evaluates about 300 kids a year from a 15-county area, does not have a new location yet. The center says it will complete evaluations of kids on its 7-month waiting list before it moves. … Without the evaluations, kids often cannot get the extra services they need in school such as speech and occupational therapy, according to Susan Scharoun, a psychology professor at LeMoyne College who works with parents of children with special needs…. The long wait for an evaluation is a “… waste of precious developmental time we could be using to put the child back on track,” Scharoun said. The delay comes at a time when autism diagnoses in children are soaring. The number of special education students statewide with autism grew from 6,752 in 2000 to 37,435 in 2016, a nearly six-fold increase, according to the state Education Department. Caitlin Goolden, whose 2-year-old son is on the wait list at the Margaret L. Williams center, said the center’s staff refused to answer her questions about the clinic’s future or why it stopped accepting new patients. “If something happens to the center and we can’t get in, I’m not sure where we are going to go,” said Goolden, who lives in the town of Fine in St. Lawrence County. … Syracuse needs more, not fewer, places to get development evaluations, said Meg Catanzarita, a speech pathologist at Connections….


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